The film is a rather loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the latest in a series of movies that transpose the Bard’s universe in an American high school. Think O, “Get Over It” or “10 Things I Hate About You”, the latter of which was written by “She’s the Man” screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. Hence, Viola goes from a shipwrecked lady who poses as a man to work as a page to a teenager (Amanda Bynes) who, after her school cuts the girls soccer team, decides to disguise herself as her brother Sebastian (James Kirk) in order to join a male team.
The fun grows from watching how the young woman tries not to be unmasked (taping down her big boobs, lowering her voice, showering at night, etc.), but mostly from the always inventive twists of the story. Indeed, Viola/Sebastian winds up falling in love with teammate Duke (Channing Tatum), who’s pining for beautiful Olivia (Laura Ramsey) who, it turns out, has a crush on Sebastian/Viola. On top of this wonderfully twisted romantic triangle, there are even more complications and involved parties and, naturally, everyone runs into each other at the end to much confusion.
Simultaneously vaudeville, sports drama and vaguely feminist romantic comedy, “She’s the Man” rests in all cases on the energetic performance by Amanda Bynes. It’s really funny to see her constantly going back and forth between her natural sensibilities and the macho dude behavior she attempts to adopt, and she proves once again that she’s not afraid to make a fool of herself. Gotta love that, how Bynes will always rather get laughs than just look pretty. The rest of the cast is game as well, especially Vinnie Jones as the badass coach and David Cross as the dorky headmaster. Fun for all, really, not just teenage girls.