The only thing worth noting in SHE’S THE MAN, the latest vehicle for ‘tween idol Amanda Bynes, is how completely free of anything resembling competence that is exhibits. And yet is has the temerity to proudly proclaim in its opening credits that it was inspired by Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”. As for any actual similarity between this sad excuse for a film and anything penned by the immortal Bard of Avon, it is strictly that both made use of the English language. Or, rather, one of them uses it while the other abuses it. Badly.
The premise is lifted from that play by way of BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM. This Viola (Amanda Bynes) is out to play soccer at any cost, even if it means masquerading as her twin brother in order to make the team. Never mind what happens next. It’s an insult to English literature, British cinema, and civilization as a whole.
This is the sort of incompetence perpetrated by people who, against all reason, think that they are being very clever. Not clever enough, alas, to notice that Bynes looks far more butch before she’s tricked out in male drag. Then again, these are the same people who failed to notice that her idea of acting is to make her eyes as wide as possible in her pudding-pop of a face while mugging both shamelessly and badly at the camera. And that’s the high point of her thespian endeavors. She reads her lines as though every word was followed by an exclamation point, and tries for the big laughs by chewing with her mouth open. Yet that is better than when she tries to speak like a guy. What comes out is a disturbing mélange of urban yokel enunciated as though she were fighting a losing battle with a gullet full of grits.
The rest of the cast, including the painfully misused David Cross of “Arrested Development”, seems to have been instructed to dampen their talents so as not to make Ms Bynes appear any more talentless than necessary. This results in Channing Tatum, as the teammate who is also the object of her affections, approaching hunkiness by mumbling and staring into space as though fascinated to utter distraction by some shiny object in the distance. There were those in the audience who wished that they, too, could watch the shiny object instead of the rest of the film.
Fortunately for everyone concerned, there is only about 10 minutes or so of actual story. The rest of the running time is spent watching Ms Bynes go through her paces, on and off the field, to the strains of derivative pop songs that may actually be worse than the dialogue, which would make the participants in a third-grade pageant wince in embarrassment if forced to mouth it. There are cat-fights in the ladies’ room choreographed so that no one’s dress gets rumpled, a quick change in a moon bounce that fails to consider basic physics, and a hapless Julie Haggerty as Viola’s ruffle-loving Junior League mother.
Then there is Vinnie Jones, he of LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS and some of the most vicious soccer interludes anywhere on the planet. He pops up as Viola’s soccer coach, a welcome whack of menace amid the fluff. The only question is what he’s doing slumming like this.
SHE’S THE MAN not just bad, it may actually be able to kill brain cells. Though, if given the chance of going quickly and having to sit through Ms Byne’s repeated proofs that her career can only be explained by a pact with Satan, what cell wouldn’t choose the former?