Saved by the Bynes

By Gus Bode

“Sydney White”

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Amanda Bynes, Sara Paxton, Matt Long


Directed by Joe Nussbaum

Runtime: 90 min.

Every once in a while, you hear about a movie with an amazing dramatic performance that elevates the film’s generic story (see: Charlize Theron in ‘Monster’). This week in theaters, it’s a great comedic one.

On a very basic level, “Sydney White” is enjoyable, but it doesn’t contain a single original element or plot twist that hasn’t been seen in millions of other movies. Luckily, Amanda Bynes stars, and she saves the film from being just another comedy for 14-year-old girls.

Loosely based on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” Sydney White (Bynes) has just arrived at college and looks to impress her dead mother by joining her mother’s sorority. Unfortunately, the appropriately named sorority president Rachel Witchburn (Paxton) wants Sydney out for awkwardly hitting on Witchburn’s ex-boyfriend (Long). After her rejection, Sydney goes to live at the Vortex, a run-down house populated by seven of the nerdiest guys on campus.

The plot starts to kick in when the evil sororities decide to tear down the Vortex in order to build a new Greek Life center. Sydney gets the geeks to run against the Greeks for student council president. Will the nerd win? Will the sorority sister end up humiliated by the end? Will Sydney fall in love with the dreamiest guy on campus? Will water continue to be wet?

The plot is all generic clich´┐Ż, but it’s the way that all the performers throw themselves into their roles that makes the movie. The biggest winner is Bynes, who has not only made it to 21 without any sort of drug or alcohol related scandal, but has become one of the best comedic teens in Hollywood. Whenever her name appears in a movie, it’s guaranteed that it will be slightly better than the average teen fare.


There’s not much to mention about this movie from a technical standpoint. The direction by Joe Nussbaum and the script by Chad Gomez Creasey all scream “sitcom” and to be fair, this isn’t a movie about amazing camera tricks and brilliant writing. The generic teen-pop music soundtrack echoes this sentiment as well, featuring a bevy of rock bands that probably were washed up a month before this film was released.

In the end, it’s the movie’s lack of originality that keeps it at bay. Thinking back to the criminally underrated “She’s the Man,” another film starring Bynes, we can see that it took its source material (Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”) and did something interesting and fresh with it, making it one of the best teen comedies of the last decade. “Sydney White” doesn’t have anything going for it that wasn’t in the original fairy tale of “Snow White” and it doesn’t do anything clever with that formula, such as satirize it or make fun of it ala “Shrek.” Perhaps it was too much to ask that the movie do this, seeing as its target audience is little girls, but it would have been nice if there was something there for the adults to get more than mild chuckles .

Daily Egyptian writer Wes Lawson can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected]