This year’s feel-good flick for tweens has hit theaters in the form of the new Amanda Bynes film, “Sydney White.” While the film tries to update “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” with new jokes, it falls into the predictable rhythm of a “be true to yourself, while still managing to get the cute guy” film.
Sydney (Bynes) is a freshman at Southern Atlantic University, where her dream is to pledge her mother’s Kappa sorority. Sydney and her bubbly Southern roommate Dinky (Crystal Hunt) are guaranteed a bid because of their legacy status but not if sorority president Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton) has anything to say about it. She feels threatened by Sydney’s beauty and is furious that she is getting close to her ex-boyfriend Tyler Prince (Matt Long). After being exiled from the sorority, Sydney flees to “the Vortex,” a run-down home occupied by seven dorks at the end of Greek Row.
In true Snow White fashion, the seven men living in “the Vortex” take Sydney in and become her protectors. First there’s the Sneezy character, Lenny (Jack Carpenter), who becomes the love interest of Dinky through a shared allergy problem. Grumpy is channeled through Gurkin (Danny Strong), an angry blogger. Sleepy Embele (Donté Bonner) is from Nigeria and has yet to recover from jet lag, despite having been in the United States for more than three years. Bashful Jeremy (Adam Hendershott) is unable to speak publicly without the help of a sock puppet. Dopey George (Arnie Pantoja) is an idiot savant, able to do almost anything without even realizing it. Doc is introduced as the eccentric mad scientist Terrence (Jeremy Howard). And then there’s Spanky (Samm Levine), the Happy–esque character who could have just as easily been named Horny.
The film basically remakes “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” with just a few added twists. The evil queen’s magic mirror has become a MySpace list called “Hot or Not,” which Rachel checks religiously; the poisoned apple has turned into a hacked Apple computer that loses all of Sydney’s most important files; and that legendary kiss from the prince has been translated into Tyler kissing Sydney to wake her up after she passes out writing a paper. The Snow White character has also become remarkably more tan over the years.
Though Bynes delivers her usual perky-yet-awkward heroine routine with ease, her performance in “Sydney White” once again finds her unable to meet her comedic potential. A majority of the film’s laughs came from the leading men, all seven dorks masterfully putting their gawkiness out there for the audience in the form of vicious pirate versus ninja debates in the library, fantasy sword fights in the basement of “the Vortex” and the angst-ridden blogging of grumpy Gurkin.
Beside the scenes involving the seven dorks, the jokes tend to miss the mark. Rachel’s rants that are supposed to be cured by her calming words like “Prada,” “Gucci” and “Chanel,” all references to Sydney’s unnatural knowledge of tools and comic books and all of the awkward things Sydney utters in front of Tyler leave the audience more concerned with the next appearance of the seven dorks than with the actual plot.
“Sydney White” delivers in the way most light-hearted teen-flicks deliver: While you’re leaving the theater and agreeing with your friends that it was good, you’re mentally going over the list of other movies you could have seen.
“Sydney White” was written by Chad Creasey and directed by Joe Nussbaum.
“Sydney White” received two out of four stars.