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Sydney White

A modern take on Snow White, Sydney White is also one of those user-friendly college romps—a Legally Blonde meets Revenge of the Nerds. Formulaic, yes, but it sort of grows on you.


Our fair maiden Sydney (Amanda Bynes) doesn't have coal-black hair or sing with a sweet voice or have woodland creatures following her around. Instead, the tomboy grew up on construction sites with her widower dad (John Schneider), a plumber who guided Syd as best he could. But now the time has come for the gorgeous freshman to head to Southern Atlantic University to pledge her late mom's once-dignified sorority, where she meets this story's version of the Wicked Queen: the vain and evil Rachel (Sara Paxton), president of the sorority. Let's just say Sydney does not fit in, and Rachel sends the soon-to-be fairest of them all to the curb. Luckily, there's a condemned frat house right next door, with seven very socially challenged guys--each with a familiar ''Dwarf''-like quality. They take Sydney in, and soon, with the help of one love-struck frat boy named Tyler Prince (Matthew Long), she and the seven doofuses campaign to take over the student government—and push out the Greek system that has ruled for too long.


Tween sensation Amanda Bynes knows exactly where her bread is buttered. With star vehicles such as What a Girl Wants, She's the Man and now Sydney White, the comic actress keeps playing slightly different versions of the same character: a pretty, if goofy and klutzy, young woman whose vivaciousness usually changes everything for the better. And whether her fluff movies grate or not, you can't fault Bynes, who clearly knows what works for her. Paxton (Aquamarine) is perfectly predictable as the mean girl, as is Long as the Prince. But the seven guys playing the nerds do a nice job of reinventing their dwarfishness, be it sneeziness, sleepiness, bashfulness, dopeyness—you know the rest. The only dork who didn't quite mesh with his inner-"Dwarf" was the one called Spanky (Samm Levine), who is more horny than "Happy." I guess in the fairytale there really isn't a Lusty dwarf, even though you'd think at some point at least one of them must have had a few untoward thoughts about Snow White. They were little but still men.


We've seen countless Cinderella redos, but for a modern retelling of the classic fairy Snow White, Sydney White isn't half-bad--there, it's been said. It's got all the trappings of a college comedy, but some of it works. Don't, however, give credit to director Joe Nussbaum, whose only other movies include the dud Sleepover and the direct-to-DVD American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile. He pretty much directs by the numbers. No, it's first-time screenwriter Chad Creasey who is the clever one. For example, the poisoned apple is translated into a virus sent to Sydney's Mac laptop. And when the dorky seven march in a line past Rachel and her crew, holding picket signs, one of the guys says, "Hi, ho!" For a film as pedestrian as Sydney White, laughing out loud even once means something. It's certainly not going to wow anyone besides girls ages 8-14, but Sydney White will make the perfect third in the Amanda Bynes comedy DVD set.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.