Dorks unite! The best message of “Sydney White”
Heaven knows we need more films based on self-empowered teenage girls. It’s a subject Hollywood rarely addresses, surprising given the fact that young women make up an important audience demographic. Only teenage boys outspend their similarly-aged counterparts.
Along comes “Sydney White,” starring established TV star Amanda Bynes as the titular tomboy who says goodbye to her plumber father (Original Duke of Hazzard Jon Schneider) to go to college at a sunny Florida university. Her mother (who died when Sydney was a child) was a popular sorority gal, and the cute freshman hopes to walk the same path as her mom.
Trouble is, down-to-earth non-blonde Sydney is a duck out of water amongst the prissy, shallow, sneering girls of Kappa Phi Nu. Especially ingratiating is sorority president Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton), who has it in for Sydney the moment her heartthrob Tyler Prince (Matt Long) becomes smitten by the unpretentious new pledge and her power tool prowess.
If the names of the principals haven’t given you a clue by now (“White,” Witchburn,” “Prince”) here’s the obvious plot point: Sydney finds refuge among seven dorky guys whose frat house could be condemned simply because of its odor, not to mention the preponderance of nerdy accouterments: Star Wars memorabilia, video games, and bad hairstyles abound.
Despite an extremely predictable and formulaic storyline, there are enough genuine laugh-inducing moments– almost all of them courtesy the seven dweebs– that “Sydney White” is rarely boring if not exactly fresh or original.
Even Bynes (a graduate of the Nickelodeon school of overacting) and her annoyingly pervasive facial twitches are winsomely tolerable. Despite its college atmosphere, the film stays pretty much on the level of middle school aged girls (there is one keg-related gag that doesn’t involve drunkenness that must be a film first) who rightfully appear to be the target audience.