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Brandon Judell

"Sydney White" -- I Used to be Snow White But I Drifted

Sydney White (Amanda Bynes) and admiring frat boy Tyler Prince (Matt Long) in "Sydney White." (Photo: Universal Studios)

IQ-wise, "Sydney White" is an absolutely delightful entertainment for all young girls aged 12 to possibly 12 and a half. And even if "hos" is used a few times--plus the greeting "Welcome to Hell, Skanks!" once--that shouldn't upset concerned parents too much.

As for the creators' notions that all Jewish boys are Orthodox nerds with flopping peyos and that all homosexuals are drag queens, what the hell! It's only 2007. Why let some good stereotypes die just because of the activities of a few liberals? Additionally, we should all pitch in and combat the awful influence "Will and Grace" has had on our youths. Jewish queers! Feh!!!

Anyway, this film is an almost delicious spoof on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. (That's if you like poisoned apples.) There's just a change of character names and locale. Now all the action takes place on a college campus, and Snow is Sydney (Amanda Bynes), the daughter of a widowed plumber (John Schneider) who raised her on construction sites. A wrench and a hammer are her makeup tools.

As an at-first reluctant freshman, Sydney's dream is to join the same sorority at Southern Atlantic University that her late mother was in, Kappa Phi Nu. Sadly, this is not in the cards. The head sister of the sorority, blonde goddess Rachel Witchburn (a one-note Sara Paxton), has taken an immediate disking to Sydney for being found attractive by Rachel's former boyfriend, Tyler Prince (cute Matt Long).

Well, before you can spell out S-O-C-I-A-L-C-A-T-A-S-T-R-O-P-H-Y, Sydney is sorority-less and living in a disintegrating house with faulty plumbing that is home to Seven Dorks, who enjoy fantasy games and making believe they are Star Wars characters in battle.

On, no! Under these circumstances, can Sydney White win her Tyler Prince Charming and overthrow the wicked Witchburn and thus get a chance to live happily ever after? Guess.

Moral: Being a progressive nerd is better than being a conservative princess.

Director Ron Nussbaum, who gained a sort of fame with the popular 9-minute short "George Lucas in Love" and numerous commercials, seems unable to shape anything over ten minutes. There is not an interesting setup here, the actors are often left in limbo, and this helmer is unable to add any visual spark to Chad Gomez Creasey's pedestrian screenplay.

Then there's Ms.Byne. As Ms.White, she apparently can't muscle up the charm that made her the darling of the Nickelodeon Channel on "The Amanda Show" and "All That." She's clearly one of those celebrities you have to have watched for years on the little screen to be able to stomach her merits on the big one. Confronting her for the first time, you can't help but ask yourself, "Where's the talent?" Here she is a void in a Black Hole of a project, creating an affable emptiness that is neither boring nor entertaining. It just is.

Which makes one question why so many teen and pre-teen offerings are so toothless, so lacking in artistic merit, so un-riveting? The obvious answer is that when bland product can make a profit so easily, why make an effort to create something special? Something fresh?

Ask Morgan Creek producer James G. Robinson. It's hard to imagine that a man involved with "Enemies, A Love Story" and "The Good Shepherd" would attach his name to this gritless offal. Maybe there is such a thing as selling your soul to the devil after all.

Director: Joe Nussbaum
Producer: Janes G. Robinson
Writer: Chad Gomez Creasey
Cast: Amanda Byne, Sara Paxton, Matt Long, Jack Carpenter, Jeremy Howard, Crystal Hunt, John Schneider


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