Everybody has a secret… Duke wants Olivia who likes Sebastian who is really Viola whose brother is dating Monique so she hates Olivia who’s with Duke to make Sebastian jealous who is really Viola who’s crushing on Duke who thinks she’s a guy…
In the world of high-definition home media, I have prayed for three specific Blu-ray releases from three separate studios to add to my collection of immense nostalgia. First, the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap from Disney is an absolute must. I understand that it’s streaming on Disney+, but I don’t care. I simply want an anniversary Blu-ray for it (seeing as its 20th anniversary was 2018, I suppose I’ll have to wait for 2023’s 25th anniversary). Secondly, a remastered release of the 1997 camp classic Spice World from Sony is another necessity for this generation to experience the magic of the Spice Girls. Lastly, pulling from my direct line of “I genuinely was old enough to vividly remember this movie coming out” is 2006’s She’s the Man from Paramount (via DreamWorks). The pinnacle of mid-2000s teen cinema, and at the height of Amanda Bynes fever, this charming modern adaption of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, while not visually or aurally stunning, is a film that should be regarded among the other giants of teen films like Clueless and Mean Girls.
And it’s funny I should mention those films.
While I’m still waiting on The Parent Trap and Spice World to make their way to Blu-ray, Paramount has brought the goods on the eve of She’s The Man’s 15th anniversary (I feel so old) with two releases of the film primed to scratch the itch bugging fans for a decade-and-a-half. Releasing a “Girls Rule” 3-pack consisting of She’s the Man, Clueless, and Mean Girls, Paramount really decided to finally realize that they held the power of strong, female led teen comedies in the palm of their hands and have utilized it into perhaps the best trifecta of films in the guise of a budget 3-pack. Don’t let the budget nature of it fool you, these are three quality films with good releases. Also releasing is a long-awaited standalone Blu-ray release of She’s the Man, which I personally reviewed, as I already own both Clueless and Mean Girls on Blu-ray, because of course I already do.
Viola (Amanda Bynes) is a skilled soccer player and unabashed tomboy who finds herself alone and dismayed after her school’s dissolution of the girls soccer team and refusal to allow her to join the boys team. When Viola’s musician twin brother, Sebastian (James Kirk) hastily leaves the country to perform in London with his band right before the school year starts, Viola takes it upon herself to attend Sebastian’s boarding school, Illyria, disguised as him and rise through the ranks of their elite soccer team to prove that she can do it just as good as the boys. There, she finds herself wrapped up in concealing her true identity, dealing with romances with the likes of Olivia (Laura Ramsey) and Duke (Channing Tatum), as well as fending off the likes of her ex-boyfriend, Justin (Robert Hoffman), and Sebastian’s girlfriend, Monique (Alexandra Breckinridge).
Following me? Probably not, and that’s kind of the point here! The super complicated web that She’s the Man weaves is clever, but entirely cringe-worthy in the amount of secondhand embarrassment that happens on Viola’s behalf in the film. It’s sometimes genuinely impressive how effectively the film can weave the interlocking stories, but much like the characters in the film, you can get lost. It’s incredibly entertaining to watch someone with the charm of peak Amanda Bynes wiggle her way out of every slapstick situation the film throws at her, and, while it all exists on a completely separate plane of reality completely detached from any sort of logic and realism, there’s even more fun to be had in such escapist entertainment like this.
And dear god, how charming Bynes is in this film. I would trade 7 Amanda Seyfried’s, 4 Scarlett Johansson’s, 2 Dakota Fanning’s and half of an Anya Taylor-Joy just to have Amanda Bynes back in show business…okay maybe not that much, but it’s undeniable just how much Bynes brought to the table over the various “it girls” of the early-to-mid 2000s. There’s a comfortable, approachable ease and humor in everything she does that makes her impossible not to like (except in Easy A where she really uses that charm to twist it the opposite direction). Viola is simply one of those characters who simply has chemistry with the camera, and in turn, the audience, without as much as even having to utter a word in the film’s first minutes, you already root for her immensely. That was the power of Amanda Bynes as a star during this era.
And what an era…2006 was the vibe to end all vibes, at least in my view. With the 1980s pulling a complete comeback with filmmakers who grew up in the ‘80s looking to recreate the goodness of their nostalgia bias, this is the exact year that rings in my head of the most iconic of my adolescence. From the bombastic moments of the opening credits set to “No Sleep Tonight” by The Faders, to the mid-movie montage with “4ever” by The Veronicas, to the film ending with “Move Along” by The All-American Rejects, and everything in-between to the style, technology, lingo, and style of over-the-top slapstick humor speaks to this specific era in time so wonderfully. Bias plays a massive role in this, but I refuse to let that not sway me, because I deserve to enjoy reminiscing too, not just old people with the ‘80s.
Debuting for the first time on high-definition physical media, I have to say that She’s the Man doesn’t shine particularly bright. Colors are muted and the film often looks grainy, and not intentionally so. It’s certainly an improvement over the 480p DVD (which I’ve owned since 2006), but not so much so that it’s a revelation. Granted, this isn’t a particularly visual film by any means, so it doesn’t bring down the joyful experience of the film itself, but some more love could’ve gone into its remaster.
Aurally, the film fares a little better, as its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is helped immensely by the film’s use of music (as I’ve detailed above in its iconic glory). Scenes of dialogue aren’t particularly showy, nor should they be, but the room-filling glory of The Veronicas blasting through a pivotal soccer sequence in the film is more than enough to make you feel something.
While Paramount hasn’t added any new special features for the Blu-ray release, it does at least retain the wonderful special features ported over from its initial DVD release in 2006, back when movies, great or small, actually cared about providing audiences with close looks into the production of their films, and She’s the Man is no different. With a collection of making-of featurettes, two separate audio commentaries (recorded in 2006, which is another lovely little blast from the past), deleted scenes, bloopers, and even more, it almost feels like a modern day collector’s edition of the film, if only because our standards have now become so low for physical media that this feels premium. Not sure if that says more about this particular release, or the nature of physical media in 2021, but it sure gives me some major emotions.
Would I have put She’s the Man in the Criterion Collection instead of just re-releasing its DVD release in high-definition? Absolutely, as it’s truly what the film deserves after so many years. However, I’ll gladly accept any opportunity that is provided to me to revisit this highly nostalgic, and incredibly pleasant film. Sure, because it’s so indicative of the time it was made in, some of its views on gender and sexuality are a bit dated, but not concerningly so. In fact, I’d argue that I was more impressed with how it handed itself after so many years than I expected going into it. Luckily, Paramount’s initial release of She’s the Man was excellently put together, referencing a bygone era of bespoke home media releases for films at every release level, and in a way, making this whole release feel nostalgic. Its high-definition remaster is nowhere near impressive enough for this to make me believe in the Blu-ray format very much, but the sheer warmth that a competently put together piece of physical media that isn’t attached to a premium price tag is surprisingly touching, and I’m happy to finally add this film to my collection.
She’s the Man Special Features:
- Audio commentary by Amanda Bynes, director Andy Fickman, co-writer/producer Ewan “Jack” Leslie, and actors Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, Robert Hoffman, and Alexandra Breckinridge.
- Audio commentary by co-writer/producer Ewan “Jack” Leslie and producer Lauren Shhuler Donner.
- Making The Man
- The Troupe
- Inspired by Shakespeare’s…
- Deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by Amanda Bynes, director Andy Fickman, and co-writer/producer Ewan “Jack” Leslie.
- Gag reel
- Shakespeare, Soccer and Such Trivia Pack
- “Let Go” music video by David Lichens
- Theatrical trailer
Available on Blu-ray and digital March 2nd, 2021.
Final Score: 4 out of 5.