Sunday, 13 May 2018

Movie Review: Sydney White (2007)


A teen college campus comedy, Sydney White modernizes Snow White and lands enough good moments to satisfy its modest ambitions.

Sydney White (Amanda Bynes) is the down-to-earth daughter of a good-hearted plumber (John Schneider), brought up on various construction sites, and now heading off for her first year at college. Sydney's mother passed away when she was young, and her great ambition is to join the prestigious Kappa sorority that her mom belonged to.

At college Sydney meets roommate Dinky (Crystal Hunt), a fellow Kappa wannabe, and catches the eye of hunky Tyler Prince (Matt Long). But she quickly learns that current Kappa President Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton) is the reigning queen of the school. Rachel is vain, imperious and Tyler's jealous ex-girlfriend. She immediately perceives Sydney as a threat, and sets about blocking her sorority ambitions. Sydney falls in with a group of seven dorky campus outcasts, and starts to plot a different path to happiness.

Directed by Joe Nussbaum, Sydney White benefits from an appealing Amanda Bynes performance and a lighthearted touch. Bynes is all goofy mannerisms bolted to a grounded personality created with hammers and nails under her father's tutelage, and her stark contrast with the stuck-up Barbie dolls occupying the Kappa sorority gives the film plenty of impetus.

Meanwhile Nussbaum and screenwriter Chad Gomez Creasey ensure the story never takes itself too seriously, with enough clever Snow White references (including modern versions of the beauty ranking system and the poisoned Apple) to salute the fantasy without trampling all over it.

Sydney White is guilty of buying some laughs at the expense of stereotypes, but generally skates by on good will. The seven dwarves are socially awkward campus misfits who have retreated to a condemned house where they mainly keep to themselves. Gamers, nerds, an immigrant from Africa and a couple of students with psychological ailments are the target of laughs but also help propel a message of inclusion and the benefits of embracing inner dorkiness.

The romance elements remain at the preliminary swoon level, culminating in a just-in-time wake-up kiss. Even in college, a Prince's smoochy intervention is a welcome boost for a young woman's good fight against the resident witch.






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