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Film / She's the Man

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"Duke wants Olivia who likes Sebastian who is really Viola whose brother is dating Monique so she hates Olivia who's with Duke to make Sebastian jealous who is really Viola who's crushing on Duke who thinks she's a guy..."
— Tagline for the movie

She's the Man is a 2006 teenaged Romantic Comedy starring Amanda Bynes (The Amanda Show) and Channing Tatum which is loosely based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Tomboy with a Girly Streak Viola Hastings (Bynes) is intensely into soccer, so much that when her private school, Cornwall Prep, cancels the girl's soccer team and refuses to let her play on the boy's soccer team, she hatches a plan to show them and her Jerkass ex-boyfriend that a girl can play just as well as a boy. Viola has a twin brother, Sebastian (James Kirk — no, not that one), who has recently been expelled from Cornwall for refusing to attend his classes. Sebastian decided to run off to London for two weeks to play with his rock band just before he is due to start at Cornwall's rival school, Illyria Academy, an elite boarding school. The twins decide to help each other and solve the other's problem at the same time.

With the help of her sharp-dressing hairdresser pal Paul, Viola becomes Sebastian, enters Illyria, and voilà!. It's not a perfect disguise, but no one at the new school has met Sebastian (so they don't know the difference), and their parents are clueless because they're divorced and Illyria is a boarding school. Viola and Sebastian simply tell each that they are staying with the other, Her roommate is Duke (Tatum), the eventual Love Interest, but Viola has problems at first because of Sebastian's permanent record (he's a troublemaker) and because Viola is still a girl under her disguise. With a bit of help from her hairdresser friend, Sebastian is accepted into Duke's group of friends but is still second string for the boys' soccer team.

Enter Olivia (Laura Ramsey) who becomes Sebastian's lab partner, though Duke has a massive crush on her. Duke, who has issues talking to girls, tells Sebastian this and asks for her his her help. And so begins the Love Dodecahedron as described in the poster.

Compare Just One of the Guys, which was Twelfth Night in an '80s high school.

The film contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Context Change: The movie takes the "Some are born great" speech from the original play and delivers it as a straight motivational speech. The original context for the speech was...very different.
  • Adaptational Name Change: The movie's equivalent to Malvolio becomes "Malcolm Festes", mixing his name with the character of Feste, who otherwise does not appear.
  • Adapted Out: The subplot involving making "Malvolio" appear to be insane doesn't exist in this adaptation.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Viola loves Duke, who loves Olivia, who loves Sebastian, who is actually Viola. Eventually, they get it all sorted out happily.
  • Almost Kiss: Viola and Sebastian's divorced parents get caught up in the excitement of their daughter's team winning and almost kiss before deciding not to.
  • Artistic License – Sports:
    • In the final game. Viola's penalty is saved by the opposition's goalkeeper, and she stays where she is. When the ball is headed back in, she's standing in an offside position, meaning her otherwise brilliant winning goal would not have counted.
    • Also in the final, how the penalty was won. Viola makes a great run and goes down in the box due to a defender's heavy sliding tackle. The referee points to the spot and sends off said defender. However, if you look closely, the defender touches the ball first before taking out Viola. This is a perfectly legal, if robust, challenge, and should not have been a foul at all, much less a red card/penalty double whammy.
    • The real Sebastian is substituted off during the first half of the final game, then in the second half, Viola as "Sebastian" is substituted back on. Under official FIFA rules, "return substitutions" are only allowed in the lowest levels of competition such as recreational games.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: At least Olivia seems to be attracted to "Sebastian", who's really Viola.
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: Monique in the bathroom stall while Viola and Olivia are talking. A massive no-holds-barred Cat Fight ensues, albeit one without any male witnesses (other than maybe in the audience outside the fourth wall, that is).
  • Beta Couple: Sebastian and Olivia. A most unusual case in which the role of one member of the Beta couple is actually being carried by an impersonation from one member of the Alpha couple until near the end of the story.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Toby and Eunice share one on the soccer field after their live confession.
  • Big Man on Campus:
    • Duke at Illyria Academy, being the Captain of the Soccer team.
    • Justin, Viola’s ex-boyfriend, appears to be this at Cornwall Prep.
  • Brick Joke:
    • "Do you like cheese? My favorite's Gouda."
    • Viola tries to cover up the discovery of her tampons by pretending she uses them for nosebleeds. Later after Duke gets into a fight, she returns back to their room only to find him with a tampon up his nose.
  • Butt-Monkey: Malcolm, who plays the character of Malvolio in the original.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Amanda Bynes bites into the scenery and doesn't let it go when she's playing Sebastian. (In a behind-the-scenes interview, she states that her performance as Sebastian is based on Jack Black.)
  • Compressed Hair: Viola's long, thick hair somehow fits underneath a fairly short wig. While any cosplayer can tell you it's possible with a wig cap and hair grips, Viola's shown to wear the wig directly on top of her hair.
  • Covers Always Lie: Tomboy Viola doesn't like dresses and high heel shoes and in the movie, she exclusively wears pants/shorts and sneakers even when she's dressed as herself and not Sebastian!Viola. The only few times she wears a dress is because her mother forces her to. Yet on the cover, she's wearing a very short skirt and high heels.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: In the end, Viola and Sebastian's divorced parents exchange numbers and e-mail after the winning soccer game and it's implied they get back together.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Plenty when both Sebastian and Viola flash their parts to prove they're lying about their gender. Kia looks on through some goggles and compliments Paul on his disguise work for Viola (only that time wasn't Viola in disguise, that was actually Sebastian's genitals being flashed). Fangirl Eunice looks on proudly declaring, "Soccer is the world's favorite sport!". And Sebastian and Viola's dad proudly says of the flashing: "That's my boy!" much to his ex-wife's embarrassment. When Viola flashes her breasts, several boys are heard cheering and one breathlessly saying, "Merciful Jesus!".
  • Embarrassing Ringtone: Viola has Aqua's Barbie Girl for her ringtone. This causes some problems when she's impersonating her brother Sebastian and she forgets to change it.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Olivia Lennox has Duke and Malcolm chasing her and the rest of the guys admiring her, but she would rather have the honest Sebastian.
  • Exact Words: After Viola switches with her brother in the game, she convinces her coach to give her a second chance by saying, "I've changed."
  • Expy: Many of the main characters are based on the cast of Twelfth Night:
    • Viola Hastings is Viola. In this film she disguises herself to impersonate her brother Sebastian, but in the play she takes on the male identity of Cesario. Here, Cesario's is the name of a pizza place where some of the film's action occurs.
    • Sebastian Hastings is Sebastian. Much like in the play, his unexpected arrival resolves the Viola/Duke/Olivia love triangle: Olivia mistakes him for Viola's male alter-ego with whom she has already fallen in love and he reciprocates, while Orsino/Duke makes the same mistake as Olivia and becomes temporarily jealous and devastated as a result. After all has been resolved, Viola properly introduces Sebastian and Olivia to each other.
    • Olivia Lennox is Lady Olivia. At the beginning of the story she is not open to dating as she's still cut up about the end of her latest bad relationship, while her theatrical counterpart is in deep mourning over the deaths of her father and brother. However, she soon begins to fall for Viola's male alter-ego, and ends up with the real Sebastian.
    • Duke Orsino is Duke Orsino (with Duke becoming his first name rather than a title, and Orsino his surname), Viola's love interest. As captain of the soccer team, Duke is in a position of power analagous to the original Orsino's position as Duke, and he bonds with Viola in a way that he might not have if he had known she was a girl.
    • Malcolm Festes is Malvolio. Like his theatrical counterpart, he is a presumptuous killjoy whose pursuit of Olivia and jealousy of "Sebastian" ultimately leads him to make an enormous fool of himself. In nods to the original, his surname refers to Feste, and he has a pet tarantula called Malvolio.
    • Paul Antonio is Antonio, with elements of Viola's Sea Captain friend. Here, he is a best friend and benefactor to Viola, whereas the original play's Antonio filled this role for Sebastian instead. Both characters also have Ambiguously Gay elements.
    • Toby and Eunice are loosely based on Sir Toby Belch and Maria respectively. Both characters are distinctly nicer and more innocent than their Shakespearian counterparts, however.
    • Andrew is also loosely based on Sir Andrew Aguecheek.
  • Female Groin Invincibility: Viola, pretending to be her brother Sebastian, gets hit in the crotch with a soccer ball, but doesn't react until she sees the boys wincing and so doubles over in faked pain.
  • Feminine Mother, Tomboyish Daughter: Daphne and Viola, respectively.
  • Foreshadowing: Monique confuses Viola for Sebastian when she was wearing a hoodie and comments on their resemblance.
  • Fundraiser Carnival: Viola's mom sets up a kissing booth at one. Olivia warns Viola about a lecherous old man who keeps coming back, much to her disgust.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Principal Gold can recognize the Crash-Into Hello between Viola and Olivia as soon as it happens.
    • During his meeting with Viola he lampshades that he'll probably end up running into her at inopportune times.
  • Get a Room!: When Viola keeps kissing Duke at the Kissing Booth the kid in line behind him tells them there's a motel across the street.
  • Girly Girl and Tomboy: Daphne (Viola’s mother) and Viola. Daphne is a prim and proper lady who has sexist views and loves frilly dresses and feminine fashion. Her daughter is a tomboyish, rebellious soccer star who hates her mother’s traditional views.
  • Groin Attack: Viola gets hit in the crotch by the ball during training. She shrugs it off but the rest of the team's reaction reminds her that "Sebastian" would be in a lot more pain so she starts yelling about how painful it is.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Viola can get away with looking like Sebastian, but she clearly is... er... a girl.
  • High Heel Hurt: Viola tells her mom, over the phone, that she is definitely not wearing high heels at her debutante event because they are "a devious plot to make a woman's butt look smaller. And make it harder to get away." Incidentally, she does this while walking past the principal, who overhears and then tells a second bystander that it is indeed very hard to run in high heels.
  • High School AU: Of Twelfth Night.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Everything gets messed up just in time for the climax of the soccer game. It's William Shakespeare.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Malcolm, after seeing how Olivia is impressed by Sebastian's paper sheet of song lyrics and he tries to impress her with his singing only it doesn't sound good as he thought.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards:
    • See Pair the Spares below.
    • Toby and Eunice, who even appear at the debutante party at the end.
    • Implied for Andrew and Paul, who are shown seated at a table together during these couples' debut.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Monique makes fun of Viola's supposed lack of curves though she and Viola don't have that much difference in their, err, proportions.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: "I've gotta go change my... feet."
  • Look Behind You: Monique tries to distract Paul, Kia and Yvonne this way during the carnival so she can chase after "Sebastian". Paul has to tell Kia not to fall for it.
  • Love at First Sight: Sebastian falls for Olivia as soon as she embraces and kisses him and quotes some of his song lyrics to him. He's never met her before, but she doesn't know that (It Makes Sense in Context.)
  • Love Dodecahedron: The tagline pokes fun at this by laying it out and emphasizing the gender disguising.
  • Male Gaze: When Olivia walks into the cafe, the guy's POV (and the camera's) shifts to her backside.
  • Mistaken for Object of Affection: One night Olivia decides to go through with and surprise "Sebastian" with a kiss. She unknowingly kisses the real Sebastian, who has no idea who this infatuated girl is; not that he's complaining...
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Channing Tatum, who spends a lot of the movie without a shirt on. He's even introduced shirtless.
    • Viola's ex-boyfriend Justin as well, and Viola's mom agrees. When Viola sarcastically suggests mom should date Justin instead, she dreamily considers it for a moment before giggling it off.
    • A large part of the team when they are practicing shirtless and in the locker room.
  • Mythology Gag: Numerous references to lines from the original play come up, either slightly altered ("You're weaving a really tangled web here") or direct ("Some have greatness thrust upon them"). And although Malvolio's character in the original play is replaced by a guy named Malcolm, Malcolm's pet tarantula is named Malvolio. Additionally, Malcolm's last name is "Festes", a nod to the character of Feste in the original play who was cut entirely.
  • Naked People Are Funny: In the middle of the game, Sebastian and then Viola are asked to prove which sex they are. The respective public proofs they give are incontrovertible.
    The Twins' Father: Is it just me or does this soccer game have more nudity than most?
  • No Periods, Period: Averted when the guys discover Viola's tampons. She plays it off saying that she uses them for nosebleeds and gives a demonstration to their incredulity. Later in the movie she finds Duke actually bought her explanation and stuck a tampon up his nose to deal with a nosebleed.
  • No Social Skills: Eunice does come off as a genuinely nice girl, she just has absolutely no idea how to chat to boys in a way that doesn't scare them off. Rare for this type of character is that she actually seems to be aware of this, noting that her intensity is a problem.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Olivia's going out with Duke to get "Sebastian" to fall for her. This goes about as badly as one might expect in a comedy, but does have the inadvertent benefit of directing Toby back to the Hollywood Homely Eunice when he sees her with "Sebastian" on a double date: as he points out to the others, Eunice has to be at least somewhat attractive if she's got a date with The Casanova, so he was obviously right to be interested in her earlier when they were ribbing him about this attraction.
  • Pair the Spares:
    • Olivia and Sebastian? Introducing your brother to your friend who you think will be good for him and then them going to a party together is rather less silly than the actual marriage that happens in the play.
    • Viola's Jerkass ex-boyfriend Justin and Sebastian's Jerkass ex-girlfriend Monique.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: It's fairly obvious, when Sebastian and Viola are on screen together, that no-one could possibly confuse them for the same person. It's Lampshaded and justified in the beginning; no one at the school had seen Sebastian before. After he finally arrives, it gets a lot less plausible to the point that the writers have to weasel a couple of Contrived Coincidences (Olivia keeping her eyes closed and Sebastian putting on some "war paint" right before the game) to make it work. In fact, the director commentary says that they had to cut a scene where a couple of people see Sebastian up-close before the game because it completely shattered the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: All Viola wants to do is play soccer. When the girls' team gets cut and she isn't allowed to try out for the boys team she realizes that if she joins the rival team and beats the school that rejected her she can prove that she should get to play.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: As stated concerning Sebastian and Viola in a yearbook that Malcolm studies as part of his opposition research at one point.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Implied for Andrew and Paul, who are seen together at the debutantes' ball at the end of the film. Their counterparts from the original play hardly interacted at all, and both ended up rejected and alone.
  • Really Gets Around: Viola while posing as Sebastian gets some help from Kia and Yvonne to make "him" look like a real player so the other guys will think this somewhat clumsy and seemingly dorky "guy" a Casanova who might be worth befriending for some advice on getting girlfriends for themselves.
  • Rule of Cool:
    • Viola was not a student at Sebastian's school. Their team should have had to forfeit when the truth was revealed. On the other hand, if Viola's school had tried to invoke that rule, Sebastian's could have pointed out that refusing to even let the girls try out violated Title IX.
    • An Illyria player executes a handstand/flip throw-in. While technically legal note  it is highly impractical.
  • Rule of Funny:
    • Even if we're generous and say that it would have hurt her half as much as it would a guy, neither gender is capable of no-selling a soccer ball to the groin to the point that they have to fake being in pain.
    • Identity fraud, especially today, is a serious crime, one that they put you away for. This rule seems to be the only reason why the authorities do not get involved. note 
  • Sarashi: Viola uses an Ace bandage to compress her chest while disguised as Sebastian.
  • Setting Update: Shakespeare in a soccer-themed movie in a modern-day high school setting.
  • Share the Male Pain: When Viola gets hit in the crotch with a soccer ball, all the boys wince. Yet she doesn't notice... until a few moments later and then starts (badly) faking her pain.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Out of all the guys who likes her, Olivia prefers honest Sebastian (who is actually Viola in disguise). She would later meet and fall in love with the real Sebastian.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Just as Viola is about tell her ex-boyfriend just what she thinks of him, the coach blows his whistle.
    Viola:'re so full of—!
    Coach: (blows his whistle) Back to practice!
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Viola whenever she's dressed as Sebastian to pass as him so she can play on a boys' soccer team to prove herself against a sexist coach who dissed girls.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: Duke's reaction to Viola when she's dressed as Sebastian, which gets him a little creeped out at one point when she "role-plays" a girl for him so convincingly.
  • Those Two Girls: Viola's best friends Kia and Yvonne. They don't get much to do beyond hanging around with Paul.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Viola loves playing soccer and has a strict "no ruffles" policy. This upsets her mother, a Proper Lady who wants her to be a "lady." Despite this, though Viola is obsessed with soccer, when she’s not playing the sport she’s quite feminine. She loves fashion and shoes, wears a pretty bikini while playing soccer at the beach party and doesn’t actually seem to mind wearing dresses, it’s just fancy, big, over-the-top gowns that she despises.
  • Twelfth Night Adventure: Well, it is based on Twelfth Night...
  • Twin Switch: Viola takes her twin brother's place at Illyria while he's off singing with his band in London.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Viola and Sebastian look passable as Half-Identical Twins, although when both are onscreen at the same time it's obvious nobody could mistake them for the other. It's mentioned in the audio commentary when they discuss the difficulty of casting a man who looked like Amanda Bynes.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Twice, with Sebastian and Viola. When Sebastian is mistaken for being Viola impersonating him, he gladly drops his pants and exposes his genitals to the soccer teams, coaches and everyone watching to prove he is not lying. Malcolm is visibly traumatized by this. Later, when Viola confesses everything to the teams as well as her love for Duke, she ditches her wig and flashes her breasts when they're still in disbelief. Everyone's pretty shocked by the revelation at first, biut they get over it quickly.
  • Villain Team-Up: Malcolm and Monique toward the end of the film.
    Malcolm: (laughably sinister tone of voice) Allow me to introduce myself...
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Channing Tatum in several scenes.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Malcolm's tarantula disappears from the movie after the scene where it scares Duke and Viola.
    • There's presumably some story behind how Justin and Monique got so fittingly paired at the end as well, but it ends up on the cutting-room floor.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Viola is only cross-dressing in order to play on her new school's soccer team.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The audience can pretend Viola looks like Sebastian. While she can pull off looking like a boy, looking like her brother takes a bit more suspension. It's a moot point until much later because it's stated early on that no-one at Illyria has seen Sebastian, so looking like a boy is the only thing that counts.
  • You Go, Girl!: When Viola isn't taken seriously by her sexist soccer coach, she attempts to prove him wrong by joining the opposing school's team disguised as a boy. In the finale, she proves herself by making a game-winning kick for her team while playing as her actual gender after it's been revealed.