Sydney White

 
Tween star hits college; drinking, hazing ensue.
  • Review Date: January 21, 2008
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Lots of "mean girl" cattiness and cruelty, particularly during rush (the Kappa sisters are advised to target "cute pledges" and avoid "fat losers") and when the Kappas haze their new pledges (Rachel submits each girl to a blunt analysis of the flaws in her appearance, strafes pledges with water guns, addresses them as "skanks," etc.). But it's made very clear that everything Rachel does is unacceptable, and the movie's overall message is a positive one -- be true to yourself and accept others for who they are, and you'll be a lot happier in the end. There's also a fair amount of stereotyping; virtually everyone except Sydney fits into a "type" (spoiled sorority girl, geeky Star Wars nerd, bulky football player), and student groups are portrayed very one-dimensionally during the student council campaigning scenes. But again, it all ends up being used to reinforce lessons about diversity and tolerance.

Violence

Mostly minor comic falls and tussles. Terrence's experiments are often accompanied with small explosions, and fire occasionally breaks out in the Vortex, but no one gets hurt. Rachel drives her golf cart through a phalanx of marching band students, who tumble to get out of her way. A few screen shots of a first-person shooter video game.

Sex

Lots of flirting, with some kissing and talk of "hotties" and "hooking up." Spanky is obsessed with women and sex (he's enthralled by Sydney's sports bra, saying "that thing has touched boobs!"). Female characters' skimpy tank tops, shorts, sundresses, and bikinis prompt ogling among the guys. A scene in which Sydney eats ice cream with relish (with guys watching eagerly) prompts a comment of "this is a SO-rority, not a HO-rority." The school's "Hot or Not" list plays an important role in the plot. Male construction workers wolf-whistle at an attractive woman; Sydney matches them by whistling at cute boys. Sydney's dad attempts to explain the birds and the bees using plumbing supplies.

Language

Not that bad for PG-13, but definitely strong for the younger tweens who love Bynes. "Bitch" is used a couple of times, as are "hell," "damn," "ho," "crap," "skanks," "ass," "booty," "whoring," "douche-baggy," "hump," "shut up," "pissed," "screwed," and "loser."

Consumerism

Rachel is obsessed with labels (her "soothing words" are Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Armani, etc.), and the Kappa sisters are very materialistic in general (they look down on Sydney for having a plumber as a dad). Brands/products include a Mac laptop, MySpace, cell phones, and a Scooby-Doo nightlight.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

No smoking or drugs, but a fair amount of both visible and implied drinking. During tailgate and fraternity party scenes, many students (most of whom are presumably under 21) are seen holding plastic cups; they're not explicitly beer, but it's implied. One character sets a "keg stand" record at the Beta party, earning lots of praise and applause. Some alumni (and possibly students) hold beer bottles at the tailgate, and Sydney and the guys attract people to their booth by offering "free drinks." Tyler mentions having to pick up a keg early in the movie, and the frat house boasts an impressive beer-can wall.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this take on Snow White is tween favorite Amanda Bynes' most mature movie to date. She's as sweet and down-to-earth as always, but the film's focus on college Greek life includes drinking (one character is applauded for breaking a "keg stand" record) and catty "mean girl" behavior (hazing, cruel put downs, and more). Characters use words like "bitch," "ass," and "ho"; there's some kissing, flirting, and innuendo; and characters obsess about the school's online "Hot or Not" list. All of that said, the movie's messages about accepting people for who they are and being yourself are on target for tweens and young teens.

What's the story?

A modern take on the classic fairy tale about a jealous queen, a displaced princess, and seven quirky guys living together in the woods, SYDNEY WHITE follows tomboy Sydney (Amanda Bynes) as she leaves for college, determined to follow in her deceased mom's footsteps and pledge Kappa Phi Nu sorority. And pledge she does -- much to the dismay of ice queen chapter president Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton), who takes an instant dislike to Sydney when she sees "her" guy, Tyler Prince (Matt Long), flirting with the newcomer. Rachel vows to make Sydney's life miserable, and she does it so well that Sydney ends up out in the rain with nowhere to go ... except the ramshackle house known as The Vortex, which seven sci-fi-loving "freaks" call home. The guys -- allergy-prone (aka "Sneezy") Lenny (Jack Carpenter), eager Tiger Scout (aka "Dopey") George (Arnie Pantoja), angry blogger (aka "Grumpy") Gurkin (Danny Strong), cheerfully sex-obsessed (aka "Happy") Spanky (Samm Levine), jet-lagged (aka "Sleepy") Embele (Donté Bonner), shy puppet wielder (aka "Bashful") Jeremy (Adam Hendershott), and mad-scientist-in-training (aka "Doc") Terrence (Jeremy Howard) -- don't have much experience with girls, but Sydney's frank nature and positive outlook win them over, and soon she's urging them to run against Rachel for Student Council and really make a difference. Meanwhile, Sydney gives Rachel a run for her money on the school's online "Hot or Not" list, turns her fellow Kappa pledges on to the pleasures of eating a real breakfast, embarks on a tentative relationship with Tyler, and beams perkily in almost every situation.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

There's a reason Amanda Bynes is beloved by tweens everywhere. She's down-to-earth, funny, and cute as a button -- plus, she actually looks like a real person, rather than a stick-thin waif. She puts her abundant charm to good use as Sydney in this fairy tale update that is clever and amusing in spots and overly precious and cutesy in others.

Sydney White's story is hardly groundbreaking, and the stereotyped characterizations get a bit old -- in addition to the shallow, blond sorority sisters and Klingon-fluent nerds, the movie presents a parade of single-note student groups (the ROTC kids are buff and stoic, the Jewish kids all have side-curls and dance the horah, etc.) -- but the movie has its moments. Some of the Snow White references are funny, if verging on crude (like when the Vortex gang marches past Rachel in a line, greeting her with a chorus of "hi, ho"s), and the cast is genuinely appealing. Tweens who are used to seeing Bynes in movies like What a Girl Wants may not be quite prepared for Sydney White's boisterous fraternity party scenes or the Kappa sisters' cruel pledge hazing, but teens who've grown up with the star since her days on All That and The Amanda Show may have just found their new favorite slumber party movie.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about who this movie is targeted at. Do you think filmmakers intend for Bynes' legion of tween fans to watch this college-centric comedy? If so, why do you think they included strong language and drinking? If not, who is the target audience? Kids: What made you want to see this movie -- the story? The cast? The ads you saw on TV? Is that what you think college is really like? Would you want to join a fraternity or sorority based on what you saw in this movie? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 20, 2007
DVD release date:January 22, 2008
Cast:Amanda Bynes, Matt Long, Sara Paxton
Director:Joe Nussbaum
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Comedy
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some language, sexual humor and partying.

This review of Sydney White was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byBeckstar October 29, 2011
age 14+
 

More suited to teens around 14

Amanda Bynes is a great comedy actress. But has sexual themes and I would not let my kids watch it if I had any. Not for anyone under 13-14 I reckon.
Teen, 15 years old Written byhse987 April 9, 2008
age 0+
 

good movie

This movie is a modern take on the movie Snow White....only it takes place at a college. I say it is appropriate for ages 12+. Some younger kids might get bored with it and not understand what they're talking about in the movie. There wasn't much bad language or other references. Overall, it was a good movie with a good ending.
Kid, 12 years old August 10, 2011
age 13+
 

Another great Amanda Bynes movie!

Okay, some of the stuff may not be totally appropriate, but it isn't a bad movie, especially for PG13. I've probably seen it about 3 or 4 times, and the laughs never get old. I'd recommend it for any family with tween girls!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism

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