‘She’s the Man’ Interprets Shakespeare for a New Generation

El Vaquero Staff Writer

More than four centuries ago, William Shakespeare wrote, produced and directed “Twelfth Night.”

The play is a comedy filled with typical Shakespeare elements such as cross-dressing, comedic errors and romance, and although it is not as well known as such as “Romeo and Juliet,” “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Hamlet” and “Macbeth,” it still proves to be a crowd-pleaser.

Dreamworks Pictures, finding success with other teen renditions of Shakespeare, has hit the multiplexes with its modernized version of “Twelfth Night,” “She’s the Man,” which is now in theaters around town.

This version is directed by Andy Fickman and written by Ewan Leslie and Karen McCullah Lutz.

The main character, Viola, is played by Amanda Bynes. Viola decides to take her brother’s place at his new boarding school while he skips out to attempt to break into the London music scene. But Viola also has an ulterior motive for wanting to impersonate her brother.

When the girl’s soccer team at her old school was cut, Viola attempts to join the boys’ team. Unfortunately, the coach did not allow her to do so. Acting as her brother Sebastian is her only chance to play soccer.

When Viola arrives at the Illyria boarding school acting as her brother Sebastian, her peers deem “Sebastian” to be a dork. All of that changes when “Sebastian” tries to convince his peers that he’s a total ladies’ man. As a result, the guys and girls on campus see “Sebastian” in a whole new light.

Things are smooth sailing until Olivia (Laura Ramsey), the most attractive girl on campus, develops a crush on “Sebastian.” Unfortunately, “Sebastian” is falling deeply in love with Duke (Channing Tatum), Olivia’s crush.

Olivia, who wants to make “Sebastian” jealous, starts to flirt with Duke. It all culminates in a soccer match where everything is revealed and set straight.

“She’s the Man” contains elements typical of the teen comedy genre. Some of the jokes are overused while others are fresh and new. Viola’s process of discovering how to act like a guy is both entertaining and funny.

In one scene, “Sebastian’s” new dorm mates discover Viola’s stash of tampons. To maintain his secret identity, he tells the guys that tampons make excellent plugs for nosebleeds.

Later on in the movie, you see Duke using one of the tampons to plug up the blood flow from his nose. This is probably not a scenario that Shakespeare would have written into his plays, but it was rather amusing, to say the least.

A recurring joke in the movie is that of fights breaking out between characters. A scene where the three leading ladies get involved in a catfight while in the country club could be viewed as an attempt to generate interest in a male audience. In reality, this scene was extraneous to the plot of the film.

Bynes’s portrayal of Viola and Sebastian is the strongest and most comical acting throughout the entire movie. It brings back a bit of the old Bynes who is well known for doing different types of characters. Her more recent films have set her back greatly as just another “teen princess” actress. With this movie, she may go back to what people found lovable about her in “All That.”

Channing Tatum, as Duke, phones in a lackluster performance but provides eye candy for the tween/pre-teen audience.

While his acting is not terrible, it was not the best either, as proven in the scenes where his character is supposed to be soulful.

Alex Breckenridge portrays Monique, the psychotic ex-girlfriend, with comic sensitivity and aplomb. Breckenridge could very well be another Keira Knightly, and not just for her looks.

Laura Ramsey’s casting as Olivia, recently of a reality-based movie, “The Real Cancun,” was both regrettable and forgettable.

Her onscreen fight with Breckenridge and Bynes clearly showed that the other two young actresses, had far superior acting skills.

Based upon the jokes, plot and cast, one would come to a conclusion that “She’s the Man” is a movie best left to a girl’s night out or a date.

This movie could be more than just an average chick flick. The story, after all, has proven effective with audiences for 400 years.

“She’s the Man” is rated PG-13 for some sexual content and is in theaters everywhere.

Rating *** out of 4