This is a pretty decent teen comedy, I reckon. There’s a girl, Viola (Amanda Bynes) who is great at soccer, only her school has lost some funding and the girl’s team has been cut. She has a brother, Sebastian (James Kirk) who is ditching his new school for a couple of weeks to go to London, so Viola does some nifty hair and make-up and pretends to be him to get onto the soccer pitch and prove that girls can play with boys. The problem is, she’s rooming with Duke (Channing Tatum), the hot star of the team and gets dragged into a whole big complex set of personal issues.
I really like the work of Amanda Bynes, and when I saw that she hadn’t made a film for a while, I went looking. She’s gone off the rails. Shame, I hope she comes back and makes some more flicks. There is also the always magnificent David Cross as the totally insane principal and Vinnie Jones as the scary coach. The one thing that I felt really let this film down was the sports. All of the trickiness of who is who and where and why and stuff was great (being based on Shakespeare, it’s got a pretty darned good basis), but I did not believe that Viola was a very good soccer player. I think if that had been what the film was about, I’d have been disappointed. As it is, the films about the relationships and being true to yourself. Like any good teen film.
Who’d have thought that a musical based on a film by controversial filmmaker John Waters could become both a Broadway and Hollywood hit? What’s more, it’s a musical about issues; body image and racism in particular. Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) is a chubby teenager in Baltimore in the 1960s. She loves rock’n’roll, loves to dance and is desperate to get on local television dance show the Corny Collins show. Her attempts are initially thwarted by star of the show Amber Von Tussle (Brittany Snow) and her evil mother, Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer) but eventually she wins through and wins the affection of her crush, Link (Zac Effron). Once on, though, she discovers that she cannot handle the whiter-than-white station, and after meeting local African American dancer Seaweed (Elijah Kelley) and Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah), she must stand up for what’s right.
The music is great. Just writing about the film brings back so many of the songs (Welcome to the 60s, You Can’t Stop the Beat, I Can Hear the Bells, Good Morning Baltimore to name but a few). There is still a hint of John Waters dark humour in there, but it is an upbeat, fun film. Bright colours, superb cast, (not least John Travolta playing the extremely large Edna Turnblad and Christopher Walken playing the naïve and loving Wilbur). Sure, it’s a musical, but its one of those musicals that I just love.
Olive(Emma Stone) is your average high school student – working toward college, keeping to herself, not noticed by most of the school. Until a rumour gets out that she has slept with a college guy, and suddenly she gets the reputation of being the school slut. Rather than challenging this, she uses this reputation to help others; her gay friend hides his true sexual leanings; an unpopular, ugly guy starts to garner female attention after people think he has hooked up with Olive. It’s not altruistic, though; Olive takes cash or vouchers for her favours. She starts to dress to the character, however eventually it becomes too much for her and she needs to find a way out.
It’s a good high school film. One of those films where the parents are way too cool and ace to be believed and that behaviour that almost certainly would not be tolerated in a school is ignored. (Or at least, at this school, that seems extremely middle class and conservative. Conservative enough that the concept that one student has had sex can stop the whole school in its tracks) I think it would probably be a good film for high school students when looking at bullying and reputation – along with Mean Girls.