A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that She's the Man is a 2006 movie in which Amanda Bynes plays a girl determined to prove she's just as good as the boys on the soccer field are and disguises herself as her vacationing brother to prove this point. The movie is intended to be a modernized version of the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night, and, as such, Bynes' character's gender switch leads to frequent misunderstandings and deceptions leading to further deceptions. The humor is frequently derived from sex. When dressed as her brother and showing up at her dorm for the first time, her/his roommates find her tampons, she claims it's for bloody noses; later a character stops up a bloody nose with one of her tampons. Characters are forced to prove they are who they say they are by exposing their naked body parts (not shown); when Viola's actual brother drops his pants, their father conveys pride in the size of his penis. Expect three teen girls fighting in a restroom and male characters getting into fisticuffs both on and off the soccer field. Also expect some profanity ("hell," "ass"), as well as allusions to sexuality -- for instance, "She gives good nod."
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What's the story?
Based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, SHE'S THE MAN centers on Viola (Amanda Bynes), who hits a major road bump when she learns her high school girls' soccer team has been cut for lack of funding. When she asks to try out for the boys' team, the coach tells her flat out, "Girls can't be boys." With no support from her boyfriend, Justin (Robert Hoffman) or her mom (Julie Hagerty), Viola finds a way to takes her brother's place at his new high school, Ilysia. Outfitted with a short wig and briefly trained on how to be a boy, Viola-as-Sebastian rooms with Duke (Channing Tatum) and makes the soccer team. Viola soon develops a crush on Duke, who likes their classmate Olivia (Laura Ramsey), who in turn develops an interest in Viola-as-Sebastian. As the romantic confusion escalates, so do Viola's frantic efforts to maintain her masquerade. In a frenzied climax at a Carnival festival, quick-change-artist Viola attends as herself (flirting with Duke) and Sebastian (advising Duke as he pursues Olivia). All the while, Viola-as-Sebastian avoids taking showers with her teammates, finagles her way out of a hazing ritual, and proves her worth on the soccer field.
Is it any good?
Cute, crass, and happily unbelievable, SHE'S THE MAN is buoyed by Amanda Bynes' vivacious performance as a girl who pretends to be a boy. Increasingly unwieldy as the plot threads must be sorted out, the film relies heavily on the delightful Bynes (when she's not on-screen for a few minutes, the energy sags considerably). Once Viola absorbs her boy lessons, she finds it hard to be a girl in scenes that go overboard: She gnaws at her food, straddles her chair, fights with fellow debutantes in the ladies' room. Eventually she learns to be "herself." Not the best movie out there, but entertaining for a sleepover or teen movie night.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about gender roles and the limits of gender-based expectations. How are girls and boys trained to behave in specific ways? How does Viola come to see that lying to her mother, new friends, and eventual boyfriend is not the best way to make her point about gender equality?
This movie is based on the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night. What do you think would be the challenges in taking a play first performed in 1602 and updating it for modern audiences?
How did this movie address sexism and equality? Did the comedy heighten the overall message, or was the message muddied by all the story twists?
- In theaters: March 17, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: July 18, 2006
- Cast: Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Vinnie Jones
- Director: Andy Fickman
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Brothers and Sisters, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: for some sexual material
- Last updated: November 24, 2019
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