“Sydney White” will have us believe the stereotypes of high school apply directly to college. Those girls in the popular clique of high school will become materialistic sorority girls; the jocks become the frat boys; and the nerds, well, stay nerdy.
So high school is the same as college, down to the watered-down version of fraternity parties with vague mentions of buying alcohol and the “fun” rite of passage of a 150-second keg stand where the guys can walk and talk soberly right afterward. Obviously, parents have nothing to fear from the big, bad college scene.
This is the PG-13 rated version of college catered to high school girls who, like the actress Amanda Bynes, are hoping to try their manicured hands at playing more adult. Bynes (“She’s the Man”), who has made a career of playing plucky heroines with parental issues who upset the social hierarchy, plays Sydney, a plumber’s daughter who hopes to join her dead mother’s sorority at the fictional Southern Atlantic University. Rachel (Sara Paxton, “Aquamarine”) has it in for Sydney, apparently because Sydney’s brown hair and her audacity to eat at breakfast upsets Rachel’s Prada-princess sensibilities. Not to mention that Rachel saw Sydney flirting with Tyler (Matt Long, TV’s “Jack & Bobby”), the frat president who, while rich and in the Greek system, also serves food to the homeless.
A charming prince and an evil witch are only part of the updates of this modern take on “Snow White.” They are unusually smart for a formulaic teen romance comedy, most notably with the poisoned apple becoming a hacked Mac computer. Then there’s the magic mirror, a campuswide “hot or not” where Rachel reigns as the top leader – that is, until Sydney comes into the picture. And, of course, there are the seven dwarves, or seven dorks, including a brainiac (Doc), a horny virgin called Spanky (Happy would be the best guess for that one) and a loveable hypochondriac (Sneezy) who has better chemistry with Sydney than Prince Charming.
Sydney falls in with the Geek Squad once Rachel publicly kicks her out of the sorority, despite the fact that Sydney endured the brutal “pledge enlightenment” of jumping jacks while spouting sorority trivia and singing Celine Dion while being pelted with bologna. The Dorks take Sydney in, giving her a room in the Vortex, a run-down cottage style house complete with spontaneous fires and spiderwebs. It’s then that Sydney and the “Power of Seven” decide to take back the school from the Greek hold and that’s when the movie begins its downward spiral.
The message of the fringe groups coming together so everyone can embrace her inner dork is full of as many conventions as the designer-toting blondes and tough men of Greek row. There are the black-clad Goth kids, the always-practicing band, the ROTC members and Jews (all Jews at SAU are Orthodox and shout “L’Chaim” at every opportunity). Few characters get more than one note to play, and all look and act like they belong in high school.
But that’s appropriate for “Sydney White,” where there are always going to be those girls at every university, those girls whose calming words are Prada, Gucci and Chanel and who only socialize with the same class. Of course, they will never live as happily ever after as the girls who collect comic books and talk to everyone, no matter his beer-guzzling antics or gluten-free veggie burgers. Oh college, oh platitudes.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
At Quality 16 and Showcase