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Movie Review: "She's The Man"

i am SO freaked out tonight well cause this girl, well she was a girl but wasn't a girl, she was dressed as a guy to try to make the soccer team and she wound up being, like, roommates with this OTHER guy she thought was HOT and some other girl liked HER because the girl, well, thought she was a HIM and OMIGOD it was so...

WHEW! This is what happens when you spend the evening in the company of two thirteen-year-old girls, one being my daughter, the other being her friend, spending their spring break here in Arizona.

Both of them wanted to see the new teen-romance flick "She's The Man", so that is where I spent my night.

And I'm here to report to you that this film is actually pretty charming, well-acted, and a nicely done story.

It is VERY loosely based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night -- the second teen movie in the last few years to be so based (the other: Ten Things I Hate About You, which came from "Taming of the Shrew").

Here's the basic plotline: Viola (Amanda Bynes, better known for her work on Nickelodeon and in "Big Fat Liar") is a prep-school soccer player who learns just before school year starts, that her school has cut the girls' team. She wants to try out for the boys' team so she can be seen by college recruiters, but is rebuffed by her coach, and then dissed by her soccer-playing boyfriend, who she then dumps.

Following me so far? Good, here's more: she learns that her twin brother Sebastian is supposed to attend the rival school that her school is playing in two weeks -- but he'd rather skip off to London to further his music career.

So she decides to pose as him, enroll in the rival school, and try out for the soccer team.

This, of course, results in the inevitable near-misses on having her discovered, some misunderstandings between various boyfriends and girlfriends, the real Sebastian reappearing at the absolutely most inopportune time possible, and some actual tender moments where a teenager seeing this movie might get some real insights into male-female relationships.

No, really. Really!

This movie was far cleverer than I thought it would be, well-written and acted, and Bynes is terrific -- believable playing Viola and a boy, too. There are some very funny performances by David Cross as the school headmaster and Julie Hagerty (of "Airplane!" fame) as Viola and Sebastian's high-society mom. I also liked the coach, played by Vinnie Jones, who was at one time a British football (read: soccer) star and who made his hilarious film debut in "Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels" in 1998. How many high school soccer coaches in this country have you seen with a shaved head and an earring? That's Jones. There's a bit of a feel of "Bend It Like Beckham" in the soccer-playing scenes, too.

Look, you'll undoubtedly like this movie far more (and feel less embarrassed seeing it) if you go in the company of teenagers. But I liked it anyway. Nice story, well-told and acted.

AYRating: * * *