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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the 2006 romantic comedy It's a Boy Girl Thing examines teenage gender roles. A serious and literary high school senior wakes up in the body of her quarterback next-door neighbor, and he wakes up in hers. In order to keep their lives on track -- she has an interview at Yale and he has a crucial football game -- they must teach each other. The exchange of information includes discussion of how to manage morning erections, throw a football, and speak intelligently about poetry. The movie is raunchy, with references to waxing pubic hair, losing virginity, how to put on a bra for the first time, and locker-room views of female bodies (no full nudity). Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and "ass." Teenagers drink a lot of beer.
What's the story?
IT'S A BOY GIRL THING sets brainy high school senior Nell (Samaire Armstrong) against her quarterback neighbor Woody (Kevin Zegers) early in the action so by the time a class trip takes the battling pair to a museum, they are ripe for a magical plot twist. For no explainable reason, standing in front of an Aztec statue begins to put Woody in Nell's body and vice versa. Like Big, Vice Versa, and other switcheroo movies, the comedy comes out of the juxtaposition of the unexpected. The girl must learn to use the guy's body she is stuck in to play football well enough to get the guy into a college program. The guy trapped in the girl's body must agree to study literature so he can give an impressive interview at Yale. In the process, they both get to play fly on the wall and hear the way girls talk among girls and guys talk among guys. Woody, looking like Nell, hears his former girlfriend say she only dated him because he was captain of the football team. Nell, looking like Woody, learns how kind and supportive Woody's parents are. Woody needs to help Nell so Woody can do well and Nell needs to help Woody so Nell can do well. Their shared goals lead to empathy, friendship, and more.
Is it any good?
This movie is a cut above the usual teen angst comedy. Of course, the enormous transformation of the teenage body from child to adult is a model in some sense for the preposterous, magical transformation on display here. Transgender issues are far more widely discussed today than they were in 2006, when the film was released, but this is less a display of the distress of being born into the wrong body than it is an exploration into the ways men and women emphasize their differences rather than their similarities. The writing is intelligent and the dialogued reflects thoughtful insights into traditional male and female behavior and roles. Also to its credit, It's a Boy Girl Thing doesn't depend solely on explanatory dialogue to illuminate those differences. Zegers and Armstrong demonstrate the way their characters think like one gender and act like the other. Magical stories often get snagged in the details of their specific unrealities but once this movie's impossible premise is set out, the rest is worked out quite plausibly. The only question might be regarding Woody waking up in Nell's body. Why does he find himself in Nell's bed? And likewise, why does Nell, finding herself in Woody's body, wake up at Woody's house? Because, silly, it's magic.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the subtle ways in which the lead actors in show that their characters are one gender on the outside and another on the inside. Do you think It's a Boy Girl Thing thoughtfully looks at the ways in which boys and girls differ?
The movie suggests that the differences that keep males and females from understanding each other can be overcome, in this case by magic. Can you think of some real ways that can help people come to understand others better?
Does the movie question or promote gender stereotypes?
- In theaters: December 26, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: June 17, 2008
- Cast: Kevin Zegers, Samaire Armstrong, Maury Chaykin, Sharon Osbourne
- Director: Nick Hurran
- Studio: Anchor Bay
- Genre: Comedy
- Character Strengths: Empathy
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: for sexual content, nudity, language and some drinking - all involving teens
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