Loosely based on William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, She’s the Man recently marked its 15th anniversary by appearing on Blu-ray.
Viola Hastings (Amanda Bynes) had been playing for Cornwall’s girl’s soccer team until the team got cut. Upon learning her brother, Sebastian (James Kirk), would be going to London for a few weeks, Viola pretends to be him at his new boarding school, Illyria Prep. All she wants to do is play soccer and she pretends to be Sebastian on the boy’s soccer team. Because this is a Shakespeare adaptation, there’s also a love triangle and secrets all over the place.
Upon moving into Illyria, Viola rooms with Duke (Channing Tatum). Things get wild shortly thereafter. After stopping by Principal Horatio Gold’s (David Cross) office, Viola has a short run-in with Olivia Lennox (Laura Ramsey). To nobody’s surprise, Olivia develops a crush on “Sebastian.” Olivia’s crush leads to a problem with Duke because he’s crushing on Olivia. The real Sebastian was dating Monique (Alexandra Breckenridge) but it seems they broke things off before his London stay. At some point, Olivia asks Duke out on a date solely to make Sebastian jealous. Of course, none of them realize that this Sebastian is actually Viola. There’s so much going on but you have to pay attention!
Amanda Bynes is a talented actress. She knows how to play slapstick and crushes it in this film. The high points of her filmography are Hairspray and the Emma Stone-starring Easy A. Following the latter, Bynes essentially ends her career. A career that started off strong after All That, The Amanda Show, and her own sitcom, What I Like About You. I’m not going to comment here on the pressures of childhood fame. Only Bynes can answer why she basically quit acting. Big Fat Liar, What a Girl Wants, and Sydney White are among her other films with a leading role. In this film, she’s playing Viola and “Sebastian.” Any actor certainly wants a good challenge and Bynes manages to pull it off. Unfortunately, Bynes “went into a deep depression for 4-6 months because I didn’t like how I looked when I was a boy.”
This film is before Channing really became a household name! And yet, you could see some of his potential on screen. The two have brilliant chemistry together but given the film’s angle, it’s hard to ignore the gay panic trope on screen. This is one reason why film certainly doesn’t age well in some places. But this aside, it’s not a bad film in my opinion.
There are also many references from Shakespeare’s play weaved in throughout She’s the Man. Some might be spoken or they are the small things you notice in the background. If you watch the Blu-ray, there’s an entire segment devoted to the inspiration.
But I cannot discuss this film without talking about what happens during the climactic soccer game. Thanks to Malcolm Feste (James Snyder) and Monique, Principal Gold addresses the crowd. Malcolm and Monique decided that they should out “Sebastian” for being a girl. What they don’t know is that the real Sebastian is playing during the first half of the match. He even offers proof by dropping his pants! How do they not even notice a difference in appearance?!? During the second half, there’s a dustup and this leads Viola, as “Sebastian,” to reveal who she really is. This also includes flashing herself so as to, once again, offer proof. I have to say that I like Coach Dinklage’s (Vinnie Jones) response of saying that the school doesn’t discriminate against gender.
There is a lot that I have to say about outing someone. It’s not right and it needs to be done on their own time. In terms of the film, it’s something that gets forced on both Viola and Sebastian. For what it’s worth, the two get their happy endings.
She’s the Man may exaggerate in many departments, including toxic masculinity, but the film expertly looks at gender roles long before the world caught on.
- Commentary by actors Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, Robert Hoffman and Alexandra Breckenridge, director Andy Fickman and co-writer/producer Ewan “Jack” Leslie
- Second commentary with Ewan “Jack” Leslie and producer Lauren Shuler Donner
- “Making The Man”
- “The Troupe”
- “Inspired By Shakespeare’s…”
- Nine Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by Amanda Bynes, Andy Fickman and Ewan “Jack” Leslie
- Gag Reel
- Cast Photo Album
- Shakespeare, Soccer and Such Trivia Track
- “Let Go” Music Video by David Lichens
DIRECTOR: Andy Fickman
SCREENWRITERS: Ewan Leslie and Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith.
CAST: Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, Vinnie Jones, Jonathan Sadowski, Robert Hoffman, Robert Torti, James Snyder, Alexandra Breckenridge, Amanda Crew, Jessica Lucas, James Kirk, with Julie Hagerty and David Cross