Wherein Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is run through the same mill that turned The Taming of the Shrew into 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (and with equally fun results).
After the Cornwall Academy cuts all its funding for the girls' soccer team two weeks before school starts, and Coach Pistonek (Robert Torti) of the boys' team refuses to let high-school senior Viola Hastings (Amanda Bynes) play, she's ready to take desperate measures. Accepting the challenge of the coach's argument that girls can't be boys — an argument Viola's soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, Justin (Rob Hoffman), who's also team captain, seconds — Viola comes up with a plan: She'll disguise herself as her twin brother, Sebastian (James Kirk), who's conveniently snuck off to London for the next two weeks. Telling her divorced mother (Julie Hagerty) that she'll be spending the next two weeks with her father (John Pyper Ferguson), Viola will instead show up at Sebastian's new boarding school in his place and, after joining Illyria Prep's boys varsity soccer team, trounce Justin and the rest of his Cornwall teammates at the upcoming rivalry match. But like the best-laid plans of spirited young women with something to prove, things go awry. Sebastian/Viola does manage to convince the upperclassmen, including her square-jawed, soccer-star roommate, Duke (model-turned-actor Channing Tatum), that she's not only a boy but a player as well, and she even attracts the notice of her desirable lab partner, Olivia (Laura Ramsey), with whom Duke's been in love for the past three years. Sebastian/Viola promises to help Duke get a date with Olivia if he'll help him/her get a spot as a first-string player, but Olivia is more interested in dating Sebastian/Viola and only pretends to flirt with Duke to make Sebastian/Viola jealous. Meanwhile, Duke meets an undisguised Viola at a Junior League carnival and, after a sizzling encounter at the kissing booth, Viola realizes she's crazy about her roommate, which only makes Olivia's fake flirtation with Duke all the more problematic. Head hurt? It's no more improbable than any of Shakespeare's comedies, and Ewan Leslie's script thankfully avoids all potential homo-panic jokes. So what if it lacks any resonance beyond its slick and silly surface? It will certainly appeal to its target audience, and Bynes is charming enough to carry the whole film on her shoulders, which is a good thing considering that she's in just about every scene and leading man Tatum is a stiff. Rounding out the fun is an over-the-top catfight in a Junior League ladies' room, a weird girl named Eunice (GINGER SNAPS' Emily Perkins), and enough tanned and toned boy-flesh to keep the tweenies squealing and swooning.
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