She’s the Man (2006)

(Netflix Streaming, May 2015)  It’s almost mind-boggling to me that there is such a thing as a firmly established sub-genre of teen comedies based on Shakespeare plays.  In that context, She’s the Man isn’t much more than a wholly average entry, but it does have its moments.  Based on Twelfth Night, it revolves around cross-dressing, as a frustrated soccer player finds no better plan than to pass herself off as a brother and take over his academic life.  It’s an unlikely premise with a ludicrous execution, but it’s sporadically amusing: Amanda Bynes throws herself in her dual roles with gusto, ready to do just about anything to get a laugh.  It doesn’t really matter that she’s never quite credible as a man; at some point, you just have to roll with the premise and accept that everyone else is convinced.  Channing Tatum turns in an early comic performance as the romantic object of her affections.  Must of the plot is based on comic misconceptions, misunderstandings, secret identities and such shenanigans –it all builds to a big spectacular public conclusion in which everything is explained to everyone’s relief.  She’s the Man isn’t particularly witty, achieved or subtle, but it’s roughly the film it aimed to be, all slapstick and broad gags and updating Shakespeare to a modern context.  Even a solid average in this Shakespeare-for-teens category makes for relatively enjoyable viewing.

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