Old Lady Movie Night is a weekly (or so I try) column in which we gather, dressed like grandmothers, and watch/criticize movies in the spirit of, say, Dorothy Zbornak. (If she were in her 70s and 80s.) You’re not old if you like these movies, you’re not old if you know them. But sometimes I like to think of myself as the lady on The Simpsons who throws cats at people while wearing cardigans.
She’s the Man is an amazing movie. IT IS AMAZING, and you can tell by the fact I’ve skipped my standard greeting altogether to get right to the heart of the most important point I’ve ever made: She’s the Man is a blessing, and it’s completely underrated, and it challenges gender roles on a million levels, and Amanda Bynes rules.
She will always rule, by the by. Girlfriend had her own TV show and was a comedic force as a child. Recognize.
It’s been two and a half years since I started Old Lady Movie Night and within that time, we’ve revisited a lot of terrific (and extraordinary) films. However, She’s the Man is easily within the top 10 of all of them. It’s funny, it’s important, and it brought Channing Tatum into our hearts and minds, rendering my friends and I especially helpless against his charms and handsomeness in a time when we all liked the worst possible guys on earth. (We were 21. I was, at the time, trying to date a boy who added “Project” to his full name and called said “Project” a band. And who was also, for the record, secretly hooking up with his friend’s sister. So yes, like you, I needed Channing Tatum, more than you will ever know.)
So now, we finally conquer it: She’s the Man. A movie of soccer, and of feminism, and of Amanda Bynes eating chicken like a freaking hero.
1. So first off, LOVE that Amanda Bynes dumps that guy without so much as a written warning
Like, THANK YOU, creators of this movie. She does NOT entertain the double standard followed to a T by her terrible boyfriend (who won’t admit that women can play soccer/deserve access to the soccer field), and she stands by her beliefs and soccer skills instead of by “her man” who not only doesn’t have her back, but her takes delight in seeing women as a whole get treated horribly. Good on Amanda Bynes for switching schools! That school is terrible! Who is this coach? What’s his problem? Get out of here, everybody! (Particularly you, Amanda Bynes, who deserves the school whose coaches don’t discriminate based on gender.)
2. Also, Julie Hagerty is in this
So why don’t we all just pass out right now because Julie Hagerty is a gift mixed with the greatest birthday present. Have you guys seen Airplane! ? I assume yes, because we’re all in this together, and Airplane! is essential viewing in order to truly appreciate the 1970s and Leslie Nielsen. (Which I’m sure I’ve sung the praises of before.) Also, she has the EXACT same voice as my Mom. So if you ever want to know what my Mom sounds like, now you do. And yes, I sound much more like my very loud father. #Facts
3. Okay, let’s just get to the gender norm stuff — PART UN
So Amanda Bynes is at a beyond sexist school, but instead of pining over her ex, she seizes the opportunity to kick his ass via soccer, so she switches identities with her twin brother and attends an all-boy school. Already: brave. THEN, THOUGH, she has to play herself in various locales, where she’s constantly told to act ladylike and assume the gender roles that have been pushed on us since the beginning of time. What even IS “ladylike”?! What does that even mean?! Exactly. It means nothing. Because Amanda Bynes’ character is a damn hero, and not only dismisses said norms completely, unveils the horror of the patriarchy.
3. Part two: real truths
And I’ve tried wearing heels, and you guys, unless they’re chunky heels from the ’70s or ’90s I can’t. It’s too much. It’s too hard, and I’m not coordinated enough to not roll my ankle. So if you’re like me, every time someone suggests a pair of heels, just hand them this, printed out, and run away.
4. Okay, so let’s just get to the gender norm stuff — PART DEUX
NOW, speaking of the patriarchy (this is how I begin all my sentences all the time, by the way), immediately we see what our society expects of men versus what men actually want to give. Channing Tatum loves Amanda Bynes’ lab partner, but every time Amanda Bynes assumes he just wants to objectify her lab partner, he doesn’t — and actually gets upset when Amanda Bynes keeps going on about it/sex/etc. (AMAZING. See?) THEN, when feelings start to develop between the two of them, it’s actually kind of acknowledged instead just dismissed and laughed at. (Ex. when he gets freaked out by her voice/they hug during the spider crisis.) I mean, yeah, it’s handled like a teen film, but what other teen film has tackled gender norms and the myth of masculinity and the patriarchy like this? EXACTLY. So much to think about! All of which I’ve only done in recent years, meaning this movie is layered, meaning this movie is even better than previously thought.
5. More importantly (well, no — but still), I would have had six panic attacks by this scene
I certainly wouldn’t have handled it so well with such a wonderful excuse. I would’ve probably just started crying, gotten mad that I was being asked, then walked off the soccer field and into the sea. When you think about how terrifying it would’ve been for her to be incognito at a very masculine-oriented school, She’s the Man seems even more groundbreaking. Don’t believe me? (I mean, yeah, you probably do. But let me pretend I’m somehow in control of our intense feelings here.) I have more proof.
6. The hazing scene proves just how terrifying entering this world is
Because IMAGINE being woken up in the middle of the night, then taken from your bed, and told to strip (what is up, harassment/assault) in front of a group, and having to panic to the point of pulling the fire alarm because you will otherwise succumb to who knows what. Let’s face it: we were terrified during this scene. Why? Because WE KNEW how scared we’d be in that situation. What she was doing was a real risk! She had absolutely no power! But neither did these other men, who were also being subjected to hazing. But we actually got to feel it because she was in it as opposed to this being just another cinematic hazing scene. AHHH. Why haven’t a thousand think pieces been written about this movie, give me them I will write them all.
7. Also, the breakups are phenomenal
So first, we have Amanda Bynes telling her ex that he’s the worst and dumping him on the soccer field in front of his friends. Terrific. Then, she breaks up with her brother’s girlfriend by delivering a speech on the importance of inner beauty. She say anything other than the actual truth — she doesn’t call her names or slut-shame or her anything of the sort. She just tells her that this person’s inner beauty is lacking, which is even more hurtful because it’s even more true. And also, shout out to the guy from the first season of The Killing who wanted to ask out Eunice the whole time but couldn’t because — together! — of the patriarchy. (Honestly, let’s watch and buy this every day.)
Though disclaimer: I will say at first I was like, “Wait, ARE we judging Sebastian’s GF because she likes dressing up and the company of gentlemen and Amanda Bynes does not/lower key about it?” But no. Because we don’t judge Olivia, who also likes those things. OF COURSE Sebastian could’ve handled things better with his girlfriend to avoid all of this, but that was his bad. Amanda Bynes had to pick up the mess. AND I mean, this girl did greet Amanda Bynes with “Ew!” at one point, so listen. I’m just saying I probably wouldn’t be a huge fan either if I was AB, and my breakup would’ve been …actually, no. It would’ve been the same.
BUT THAT’S JUST ME.