She's the Horribly Feminine Man

The stroller matinee is conceptually a good idea – letting moms (even us Mr. Moms) take their under-3-year-old kids to a showing where others are not allowed, so we don’t need to worry about the screaming kids disturbing folks; we’re all in this together.

And then there’s what happens when they’re showing a poorly-reviewed flick like She’s the Man – it turned out to be just me and li’l Allison in the theater. I talked to her loudly through the entire thing. We danced in the aisles. All was well.

So why did I choose to see this film, knowing its general reputation? Well, the moment I saw an ad for this convetying the plot, and I realized that, goodness gracious, they’re doing Twelfth Night. Now that particular bit of Shakespeare is a bit of a fave with me, one that I always thought could translate via resetting or modernization. In fact, at one point I was working on a comic book adaptation that would have made it a more-explicit sex comedy set in the organized crime scene of the 1920s. So I had to see what they did.

And they did make some changes. It’s been a while since I read the original, but I don’t think the soccer game had the same outcome as in the movie. And the character that Julie Haggerty plays? If memory serves, she was actually dead before the start of the play.

The original play really has two sets of things going on. There’s the central storyline, a fairly straight storyline-oriented romantic comedy with crossdressing. And then there’s the more broadly comic material, featuring such supporting characters as Andrew Aguecheek and Sir Toby Belch. The film basically jettisons that latter portion (although you’ll still find a character named “Toby”, for example of how they adhere) and adds lots of physical and broad humor to the main storyline, resetting it as being about a girl who disguises herself as her twin brother in order to get on a school soccer team, with the romantic complications that ensue. The plotline grafting is not wholly successful; things that basically made sense in the play don’t necessarily work out in the soccer milieu. The physical humor moments are awkwardly manufactured. The performances are mostly little to write home about (although I do want to give a positive shout-out to Emily Perkins, who brings a nice odd little spark to the small roll of Eunice, the boy-hungry headgear-wearing geek). This is not a film I’d recommend to, well, anyone.

But yet, I had a good time. There was lots of music on the soundtrack, giving Allison and I plenty to dance to in the aisles. And there’s worse things in this world to having the whole theater to yourself. So if you can see it in an empty theater with a happy bouncy 16 month old gal, I guess I recommend that experience.

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Published in: on March 31, 2006 at 2:02 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I happened to catch Ebert & Roeper on the show where they reviewed She’s the Man and Roeper quickly trashed the heck out of it (“Dopey,” “Mere words cannot convey how awful Bynes is at playing a girl playing a boy”, “another uninspried comedy with a tired premise, a bland leading teen queen…”). Then Ebert completely shocked Roeper by giving it the old “thumbs up” (“I liked it,” “Amanda Bynes was loveable,” “a cute, funny film with a lot of great dialogue in it and some strange and funny situations…,” “I’ve seen ‘dopey’ and I’ve seen ‘lame-brained’ and this is redeemed by style,” “I’ve seen so many of these teen queen movies and this is one of the better ones”). The two of them briefly argue a bit more about it until Ebert jumps forward and grabs Roeper in a headlock, but then Roeper gets out of it by giving Ebert an atomic wedgie. They were still grappling on the floor as they broke for commercials… 🙂

    (Obviously just having some fun with that last bit, but the quotes are real. You can go check’em out for yourself if you don’t believe me.)

    The toddler matinee thing sounds like a good idea. Kind of like fishing—“Huh?”—you know, where often the point is not necessarily to actually catch fish, but it’s a nice bonus if you do. With the toddler matinee, the movie is probably not the point, but it’s nice if it turns out to be at least watchable on its own merits or on some level…

  2. Oops. Forgot to actually plug in the link to the E&R show where they review She’s The Man, so am doing it now. Sorry.

  3. Yeah, the matinee can be quite frustrating if you actually want to see the movie; I went through that with 16 Blocks a couple weeks back.


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