Amanda Bynes is the Lucille Ball of the pre-teen set. Her popular television shows on Nickelodeon turned her into a comedy icon for tweens and in recent years she has made the leap to the big screen. In her latest film, an update of the Snow White fairy tale, she is Sydney White, a plumber’s daughter who tries unsuccessfully to pledge to the same sorority that her late mother belonged to twenty years before.
Rejected by the snooty Kappa girls she finds refuge on campus in the nerd house, known as The Vortex because it sucks all the losers in. Her roommates are seven dorks who have familiar traits: there’s the guy who sleeps a lot, the one who is allergic to everything and sneezes constantly, one is dumb as a stump, another is so shy he only communicates through a hand puppet, while the edgy roomie takes out his ire at the world in a rabble rousing blog, as the socially awkward but super smart and the eternally optimistic housemates round out the cast.
Add to that an evil witch in the form of Rachel (Sara Paxton) the Kappa Queen and Student Council President, a good looking love interest called, what else, Tyler Prince (Matt Long), a computer age poisoned Apple and the update is complete.
Sydney White is a cute idea, but cute ideas don’t usually make very good movies. In this case, however, the predictable story is saved by winning performances from the young cast. The seven dorks are just this side of annoying, but kind of endearing in a Revenge of the Nerds kind of way. One actually manages to breathe some life into a “Hi Ho” joke that shouldn’t work but does. Ultimately thought, it’s Amanda Bynes who carries the show. She’s funny, in a goofy way, and is a likeable presence on screen.
Sydney White is a fairy tale remake and an underdog story all rolled into one, but it would be nothing without Bynes in the lead role.