Sydney White

"Good"

Sydney White Review


With all the attention paid to substance-abusing fame whores whose slight grip on reality leads to nightly news updates, the involvement of law enforcement, and endless takes on TMZ, it's nice to champion a good girl for once. Such a seemingly settled star is Amanda Bynes. After years making Nickelodeon (All That, The Amanda Show) eminently watchable, and delivering the WB one of its few sitcom hits (What I Like About You), the talented 22-year-old isn't going potty in front of the paparazzi, or showing off her "commando" goodies to the general public. Instead, she's pushing toward legitimate entertainment staying power, and Sydney White is a fine illustration of this strategy.

Sydney, as we learn, is a tomboy, hanging out with her father's (John Schneider) construction crew. Since the death of her mother, the blue collar gang has been her only family. When it's time to head to college, Sydney decides to attend her mom's old university, and pledge her sorority. As a legacy, she's a shoo-in for acceptance. But that doesn't stop snobby, selfish "sister" Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton) from targeting our heroine. Jealous of Sydney's genial disposition, her friendship with BMOC Tyler Prince (Matt Long), and her natural good looks, she devises a plan to undermine the pledge. When her strategy works, our poor little girl ends up in the rundown firetrap of the campus nerds. Known as "The Vortex," it's the home to seven dorks, collegiate misfits who help Sydney get back at her snooty Greek tormentors. (If you haven't caught on that this is a post-pubescent reinterpretation of Snow White yet, let this be your explicit notice.)

Reminiscent of Disney's fanciful '60s school comedies featuring Kurt Russell as Dexter Riley, Sydney White is a wholesome, heartfelt confection that shouldn't really work in our sullied, cynical age. We post-millennial moviegoers are just too smart to be taken in by a retrofitted fairytale, too smug to find the adventures of a good-natured gal and her close-to-stereotyped geek buddies engaging or rewarding. And yet that's exactly what happens during the light-as-a-summer breeze narrative. We find our guard dropping like so many fall leaves, left open to absorb another fluffy-as-a-baby-bunny plot point.

Credit goes to George Lucas in Love director Joe Nussbaum and writer Chad Gomez Creasy for managing the mawkish and avoiding the pat. This is the kind of story that could easily go astray, overloaded with cloying intentions and groan-inducing wish fulfillment. But thanks to a smarter-than-average script, and a great deal of filmmaking flair, Sydney's adventures appear believable. Since much of the material is geared toward those already familiar with Ms. Bynes, it's up to outside influences to broaden the approach. In that regard, Nussbaum and Creasy acquit themselves admirably.

As does the cast. Aside from our star, standouts include Paxton as the "witchy" blond bim-baddie Rachel. Long is also excellent as the too-good-to-be-true frat love interest. While his "feeding the homeless" hunkiness may be a bit much, this actor finds a way to make it work. Some of the best moments, however, come from the seven social outcasts living in the Vortex, with Jack Carpenter (as the nice nebbish Lenny), Danny Strong (the angry blogger, Gurkin), and Freaks and Geeks' Samm Levine (horndog dope Spanky) proficient at turning clichés into real characters with an engaging effortlessness.

Yet none of this would matter if not for a strong performer in the lead, and Sydney White clearly indicates that Amanda Bynes is a superstar in the making. Still young enough to get away with such merry marginal movies and yet poised to blossom into something far more substantial, her onscreen presence is believable -- and bankable. It bodes well for her future... and the fun you'll have with this pleasant piffle of a motion picture.

Mirror mirror on the gym wall.



Sydney White

Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st September 2007

Box Office USA: $11.7M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Morgan Creek Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 30 Rotten: 53

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: James G. Robinson, David C. Robinson, Clifford Werber

Starring: as Sydney White, as Rachel Witchburn, Matt Long as Tyler Prince, as Terrence Lubinecki, as Gurkin, as Lenny, as Demetria Rosemead 'Dinky' Hotchkiss, Adam Hendershott as Jeremy, as Spanky, as Paul White, Arnie Pantoja as George, Lauren Leech as Katy, Libby Mintz as Christy, Donté Bonner as Embele, Brian Patrick Clarke as Professor Carleton, Cree Ivey as Young Sydney White, Kierstin Koppel as Goth Girl, Lisandra Vazquez as Amy, Chris Carberg as Moose, as Alicia

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