Sep 25, 2009

[Movies] Sydney White (2007)

Sydney WhiteIt's interesting to note that as much as we complain about remakes and reimaginations of popular TV and movie franchises, every now and then there are those adaptations of classic pieces of literature that make for some pretty good movies that people rave about. Whether it's more accurate translations like those for Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility, there are those more alternative spins on things like Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You. The latter brand of movies seek to not just bring classic stories to the big screen, but they also try to adapt them to more modern audiences in order to get them to better appreciate the essence of classic stories.

Personally, I loved Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You even though they initially came across as being largely shallow and overly childish given their target audience of teenagers. There have been other attempts since then that have met with mixed results but I still appreciate the effort to adapt these stories to a more modern setting in order to see how strong these stories can survive given current standards.

One such movie is Sydney White, which is actually an adaptation of the classic fairytale Snow White and the 7 Dwarves. This time around, the story involves Sydney White (Amanda Bynes), a young girl who has been mostly raised by her plumber father (John Schneider) and the construction crews that he works with given the passing of her mother many years ago. Now she's off to college and determined to get into Kappa Phi Nu, which was her mother's sorority.

The Kappas are lead by the rather petty and spiteful Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton) and instantly Rachel dislikes Sydney not just for her unladylike behaviors (given her time among construction workers) but also since her ex-boyfriend Tyler Prince (Matt Long) seems to have taken an interest in her from the very start. Thus as Sydney deals with life as a pledge, she finds more and more connection with Lenny (Jack Carpenter), one of 7 dorks who have no refuge but to live in he dilapidated house known as the Vortex.

It's interesting how they tried to capture as many of the aspects that made Snow White so memorable yet without making it feel too forced or out of place in a modern setting. For example, instead of a magic mirror Rachel (our Evil Queen) has her nice shiny computer from which she checks the college's Hot or Not ranking daily to make sure she's still the fairest of them all. Plus with all the dorks taking the place of geeks, it was amusing to see the classic dwarf personalities translated into real life. Grumpy is now Gurkin (Danny Strong), your typical angry blogger type who does nothing but complain about the world on his website. Sleepy is now Embele (Donté Bonner), a Nigerian foreign exchange student who has never managed to adapt to his initial jet lag from flying over. and the aforementioned Lenny was actually Sneezy, who is pretty much allergic to everything and is pretty much a hypochondriac.

Amanda bynes300Image via Wikipedia

Sure, the story remains a tad shallow and when you have a movie involving Amanda Bynes, you know she's going to act pretty much the same way she has in all of her earlier movies all the way back to her time on Nickelodeon's All That. But that's not necessarily a bad thing and her tom boy behavior really did fit this story in order to present her as not being quite like the Kappas and a lot more like your average students and the dorks.

Sure, as a nerd and a geek I tend to take some offense at the stereotypes that the dorks had to personify, plus the fact that most of them were rather short. Still, I guess it can't be helped since it was meant as a teen movie and thus it pays to make the character archetypes as exaggerated and recognizable as possible.

Matt Long as decently cute, but nothing amazing. I didn't even remember him from his stint as a young Johnny Blaze in that horrible Ghost Rider movie - but then again I do my best to blank that memory out completely. He just didn't seem all that charming, which is really the archetype he was trying to portray, but then I guess the producers had to deal with what they could get for their budget.

Sydney White is a fun, light modern adaptation of a classic fairy tale and Amanda Bynes remains not quite as annoying as some of the other young female actresses around today. This movie gets 3.5 campaign posters out of a possible 5.


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