Friday, October 11, 2013

Sydney White Movie Review

Before coming up with this blog, I used to keep my Movie List in a day planner which I would carry around with me everywhere. As a conversation starter I would show people my Movie List and ask for recommendations. I have no idea who it was who recommended Sydney White (2007) to me or why, but it was written down and I just now got around to seeing it. It's really not very good, but in its defense it is a very cute movie and is a bit on the creative side.
This modern retelling of the classic fairy tale, Snow White, follows college freshman Sydney White (Amanda Bynes) who has just arrived at Southern Atlantic University ready and eager to pledge to her late mother's sorority. Once upon a time, this sorority was dignified and respectable, but the pristine reputation has been tarnished now that the tyrannical blond Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton) has taken over as student council president. Sydney's likable personality soon draws the attention of Tyler Prince (Matt Long), the president of one of the fraternities, much to Rachel's infuriation. After surviving the sorority's vigorous pledging process, Sydney is quickly banished for daring to question Rachel's regime. Now left with nowhere to go but a condemned house on the edge of Greek Row, the dejected and rejected pledge quickly makes friends with the seven dorks who live at the house; the biggest social outcasts on campus. Perhaps if these nerdy frat boys and Sydney can shake up the system with a takeover of the student government, they could restore the once-proud reputation of the prestigious university and offer hope to geeks everywhere.
Sydney White was released the same year as Hairspray which also had Amanda Bynes in it. Hairspray was great, but Sydney White wasn't. Apart from Amanda herself, the acting was just terrible; the cast were primarily amateurs at best. This also was not Ms. Bynes best role. She is still very expressive, has good comedic timing, and is naturally cute. Nevertheless, I think every other role I've seen her is better than this one. Her delivery seemed a bit too artificial and rigid. She still steals the show, but I know Ms. Bynes can do better than this.
What makes the movie so cute and creative is the "Snow White" references. Rachel, the evil queen, has a PC in her room with a campus version of She's is always #1 hottest in the land, and goes to pieces when Sydney eventually usurps her position. The PC acts like the magic mirror telling the queen who is the fairest in the land. The frat house that the seven dorks live in actually looks a lot like the house of the seven dwarves in Disney's Snow White. It's fun to try and figure out which of Disney's dwarves are represented by which character; Sleepy, Dopey, and Grumpy are pretty obvious. For example, one of the dorks is a foreign student who started school three years ago and still hasn't recovered from the jet lag yet; Sleepy, get it?
There is one point when the seven dorks are walking past Rachel with student council campaign signs slung over their shoulders, imitating the scene of the seven dwarves walking home from the mines. As they pass Rachel, they each say, "Hi, hoe."  I would really love to talk about the poison apple and Sydney's deep sleep are implemented into a modern context, but that is a major event towards the end of the movie and I want to avoid spoilers. That alone gets props and will likely earn a few chuckles.
The story is so full of teen movie clichés it's embarrassing: Karmic revenge, it's okay to be who you are, a formulaic morality tale, don't judge a book by its cover, you should have been with your friends all along, etc. You have seen this movies dozens of times before. There are only a few lines of dialogue that are any good. There's even the one token black guy with almost no dialogue to round out the cast. The story and script simply are not good, and ultimately will not make a lasting impression upon you.
Sydney White was a creative attempt to retell the fairytale of Snow White, but it's just not a good movie. Amanda Bynes aside, the cast is pretty lackluster, and even Bynes herself doesn't really shine in this role. The characters are shallow and predictable, the script is too simple, and the story is remarkably cliché. There is a reason no one remembers this movie. Nevertheless, seeing all the Snow White story elements woven into an otherwise run-of-the-mill teen movie, earns it several points in my book. It really is a cute movie that did a couple of creative things. Apart from some minor bits of language, like the above mentioned "hoe" and a few others, it's also a clean movie that is probably just fine for most viewers. I cannot recommend Sydney White unless the cute Snow White motif really sounds appealing to you. Even then, it's a renter at best.

Would you like to see other classic fairy tales retold in a modern setting like this? What fairy tale retelling would you specifically like to see? Comment below and tell me why!

No comments:

Post a Comment