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|Itís a Boy Girl Thing|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Nick Hurran|
scr Geoff Deane
with Kevin Zegers, Samaire Armstrong, Mpho Koaho, Brooke D'Orsay, Sharon Osbourne, Maury Chaykin, Robert Joy, Sherry Miller, Emily Hampshire, Genelle Williams, Brandon Carrera, John Bregar
release UK 26.Dec.06
06/UK Icon 1h35
Gender confusion: Armstrong and Zegers
Far edgier than most body-swapping movies, this lively and energetic comedy is thoroughly watchable. Engaging performances help, as does the filmmakers' willingness to take a few risks, although we can't escape the feeling that this concept has been done to death.
Woody (Zegers) and Nell (Armstrong) have grown up next door to each other, with Woody's foul-mouth working class parents (Osbourne and Chaykin) contrasted against Nell's high-achieving snobs (Joy and Miller). So naturally, sporty Woody and brainy Nell are in opposite groups in high school. One day, an argument in front of a mystical Mexican statue invokes a curse that switches them into each others' bodies. Which is a bit horrific as it's the week before Woody's university-qualifying football game and Nell's entrance interview at Yale. Will they be able to fill each others' shoes?
Of course, there are Important Life Lessons to learn in this story, but thankfully director Hurran (who mined this same turf in Virtual Sexuality) leaves the moral messages in the background and gets on with the story. He has the nerve to actually explore the characters and take them to the brink, although not over it. And this willingness to go beyond trite PG-rated moralising makes the film much more watchable.
It also helps that Zegers and Armstrong are very strong actors--charming and funny in the comedy bits, and also able to tap into real emotions as they dig far deeper into the characters than this kind of film usually deserves. These aren't clean-cut all-American kids; they're recognisably real, which will make the film much more entertaining for both adults and teens. Surrounding characters are more stereotypical, especially Koaho's thankless womaniser and D'Orsay's pushy cheerleader.
And yes, it's still deeply corny. The ancient curse set-up is crudely simplistic, accompanied by cheesy special effects, and hearing Woody and Nell's thoughts is just silly. It's also ever-so-slightly misogynistic. But the early stages of the body-swap are unpredictably bristly, as we wonder how far they'll take it to trash each other's reputation. And as it progresses there's actually some serious subtext if we bother to look for it.
|Miwa, London: "I was really pleasantly surprised. The film has a pretty strong idea behind it - a boy and a girl who hate each other end up being stuck in each other's bodies. It's a fun premise and whilst some of it feels familiar, what made this more interesting than the average high school movie is that it really has a heart and by the end of the movie I was actually quite moved by the whole thing." (7.Dec.06)|
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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