The press notes for She’s the Man state that it’s a teen update of Twelfth Night (what’s next — Paul Walker in To Party or Not to Party?), but the historical work it reminded me of most was Soul Man, that vintage ’80s piffle in which C. Thomas Howell, in a tan-from-the-can, pretended to be black and was so unconvincing at it that your face curdled into a wince. In She’s the Man, Amanda Bynes pastes on sideburns and a shaggy bowl-cut wig and struts around in a prep-school jacket attempting to pass herself off as a boy, but Bynes, with her chipmunk cheeks and goggly eyes, comes off more like some bizarre third sex — Davy Jones after an infusion of estrogen. When she tries to talk ”masculine,” squeaking out lines like ”Hey, bruthuh!” in a vaguely hip-hop patois, it’s so cheesy-wrong that you stare with a mix of fascination and horror.
She’s the Man, in which Bynes has to pretend to be her brother to play competitive soccer, is a role-reversal comedy that has almost too much situational structure — the whole Twelfth Night thing — and not enough scurrilous hilarity. As an actress, Bynes is wholesome to a fault. She impersonates a teenage boy yet never gives him one good dirty thought.