Me and fellow New Englander writer, Raul Gutierrez, recently watched a movie we’d been wanting to revisit after 10+ years: She’s the Man starring Amanda Bynes and (baby) Channing Tatum. The movie came out in 2006 and watching it was an interesting (read: bizarre) blast from the past. After 15 years, does the movie hold up?
To get the positives out of the way, Channing Tatum’s charisma was present even before he broke out. He plays his role as Duke well and adds a noticeable amount of variety to a character that could’ve been very one-dimensional. David Cross’s bit also stands out; he has a natural knack for comedy and his timing is off the charts whenever he shows up.
Amanda Bynes really shines as well, as this is probably her best acting performance outside of anything she did on All That and her titular show. She has great comedic timing and manages to pull off a role that, on paper shouldn’t have gone over at all. This movie truly is Shakespearean as fuck, meaning it’s one of the most melodramatic and bizarre things I’ve ever seen. I had an out of body experience watching.
The first thing to point out is the foundation of overt sexism that kickstarts the whole thing. It’s the kind of thing that the movie treats as ‘bad’ but still wouldn’t pass with todays audience.
The coach pretty much starts the whole thing by saying “boys are better than girls at sports,” and I’m only slightly paraphrasing. This entire thing is built on that key: “boys rule, girls drool” plot. This ideology is still something that authors and filmmakers delve into and critique to this day, but given how social issues have gained more prevalence and importance, you’re likely to see a more nuanced approach to dismantling the patriarchy.
This movie has its head on straight when it comes to how it handles gender roles and norms, however, something Shakespeare himself is famous for doing, but is a true sign of its time while watching.
Most of this movie’s flair relies heavily on slapstick, and if you’re not a fan of that, it will get pretty hard to ignore. It’s something that still hasn’t gone away in family comedies, but I sure wish it would. This aspect was easily my least favorite part because it feels like a cheap shortcut to a laugh rather than one that’s been earned. That’s not to say there’s no place for it anywhere in cinema, it can be done right, but I just don’t think it’s done well here.
That scene where Duke and Justin fight all over that family fair? Pure cringe.
That being said, does She’s the Man hold up on the whole? I would argue yes, but to an extent. It’s the kind of movie that, while you watch it, you know exactly what year it came from. From an enjoyment perspective, the first half is questionable compared to the second half, but it’s still fun to watch.
If you are nostalgic for it, you’ll get a kick out of it, but if you’ve never seen it, I’m not sure how much this movie will appeal to you. If the sound of Shakespeare wearing a chain wallet and acid wash jeans peaks your interest, then you’ll likely have a good time.
Overall grade: B-