What parents need to know
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?
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?