Motherless girl Sydney White, raised by her father and a group of construction workers, goes off to college with plans of joining her mother's sorority, Kappa Phi Nu.
She quickly makes friends with the other Legacy, ditzy blond Southern Belle Dinky, and meets the President of Kappa's brother frat, Tyler Prince - who just happens to be the Kappa president Rachel Witchburn's ex. He flirts with her, but Rachel sees and immediately dislikes her.
Sydney is allowed a bid due to the fact her mother was a Kappa, but things do not go well for her. Despite bonding with her fellow potentials, Rachel hates her, she isn't rich, and Tyler has developed quite an interest in her, much to Rachel's disapproval. On the first night of hazing, she brings an inappropriate date to date dash: hypochondriac, allergic, Vortex-dwelling Lenny. She likes him, but Rachel forces her to ditch him and sticks him with the check for some thirty people.
Everything blows up when, at the dance in the dress Rachel gave her, Sydney is kicked out and told, 'You will never be a Kappa.'. Homeless and feeling she has failed her mother, she goes out into the rain, sobbing on the street with her bags in front of the Vortex, so named for sucking in losers a rundown, former student overflow housing on Greek row. Rachel wants the Vortex torn down for her country-club gym for greeks. Lenny and Spanky, two of the seven dorks, offer her a place to stay.
In the morning, Sydney notices just how run down the place is and suggests some repairs. Grumpy Gurkin, writer of People'sPunisher.com, rants about the control Rachel and the rest of the Greek oppression have on campus, making it impossible to get repairs. Later that day, she spots sign-up sheets for student council, sparking their Freedom to the Seventh Power party, stepping out of her own box, and a showdown debate with Rachel.
This work provides examples of:
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Apparently, popular cliques in the dozens can overpower and control a student body in the thousands. Also, budgets can be abused to allow university-owned property to fall below building codes. And Greek Organizations can dominate campus life so much that non-Greeks don't even have their own dorms.
- Big "NO!": When Rachel sees Sydney is now number one.
- Break the Haughty: Rachel eventually gets what's coming to her - not only does Sydney win the election instead of her, she's kicked out of Kappa by the girls she abused.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Rachel borders on Stalker with a Crush when she shows up in Tyler's room, claiming to have read his emails.
- Cloudcuckoolander: George. Unable to tie his own shoes, manages to innocently win at poker every time, and still believes in Santa.
- Also Terrence, who spends the entire movie doing bizarre experiments no one else understands and making unprompted comments about the statistical likelihood of various events occurring.
- College Is "High School, Part 2": The popularity contests and social hazing seem more important than, y'know, attending classes and earning degrees.
- Expy: Every main character is a reference to someone from the original fairy tale (or the Disney version, in the case of the dorks).
- Good Parents: Sydney may be Raised by Dudes but her father cares for her very much.
- Hand Puppet: Jeremy communicates exclusively through one of these, named Skoozer. He eventually stops using it at the end when he overcomes his shyness.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Tyler takes Sydney on their "date" to a church to feed the homeless, somewhat surprising Sydney that he's so generous...until it's revealed that he's actually there to work off community service hours for a prank he pulled...and then revealed that he actually fulfilled his requirements a year ago, but he still keeps coming.
- Hollywood Nerd: All of the Seven Dorks. They all have awful social skills, they all have stereotypically "nerdy" interests (and never seem to talk about anything else), and none of them seem to have any friends outside of the aforementioned group of seven. Which is a bit conspicuous, since the movie takes place on a college campus (where, in real life, being considered a nerd isn't such a bad thing).
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Gurkin threatens to unleash the power of the internet on Tyler if anything happens to Sydney on their first date and register him as a sex offender in all 50 states - and Canada.
- Innocent Cohabitation: Sydney stays in a dorm with seven guys.
- Meaningful Name: Tyler Prince, Sydney White, Rachel Witchburn - take your pick.
- Missing Mom: Sydney was only 9 years old when her mom passed away.
- Oh Wait!: Sydney to Rachel: If only there was a place for a superficial, materialistic bitch to fit in.
- Proud to Be a Geek: During Sydney's debate, people stand up and proclaim themselves dorks.
- The Talk: Due to her mother dying before she went through puberty, Sydney was given "The Talk" by her father. His profession as a plumber led to some interesting use of tubing.
- TV Genius: We don't have any actual proof Terrence is a genius, he just sort of does weird and random stuff... until he shows up in a flash car, having sold his predictive analytic probability theory to ibet.com for ten million dollars. Maybe not a genius per se, but close enough for a fairy tale ending.