Because Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night just wasn’t good enough…
by Dan Angell
“Human beings, who are almost unique in their ability to learn from others, are also remarkable in their disinclination to do so.” – Douglas Adams
I wanted to open this review with a quote from one of my favorite writers to prove a point. If someone has taken the time to learn to write, read, then go and write their own things, have it read, vetted, reviewed, critiqued, performed, parodied, and finally accepted…don’t put a modern pop twist on it, add a crap sound track, and throw in one of the most annoying actresses who we’ve had the misfortune to watch continue to get work.
Now I don’t hide my distain for child actors who never know when to quit. I won’t name any names, but if you have progressed through shows on Nickelodeon and finally gotten a job on a feature film…which looks like it should have premiered on Nickelodeon…it’s time to move on. That being said there was plenty more wrong with this movie than a horrible theme and pathetically adapted script.
Ok, enough shots at whoever decided this was a good idea (no matter how much they deserve it) and back to the review of my painful experience. I will admit, I had to be physically restrained several times from turning it off and putting in something else, and that says something coming from a seasoned bad movie reviewer.
You see, some movies are depressingly bad, and some are humorously bad, but this one…this one was annoyingly perpetually bad. Despite the incredible predictability of it (my fellow reviewer called the exact sequence of events several times) it still managed to throw in those things that you think “they wouldn’t possibly do that, would they?” Be it having the lead actress flash a stadium full of people right after her brother just did the same thing, or the consistent and perpetual overacting (or in most cases under-acting) this movie managed to disappoint over and over and over.
I think the only way to properly explain is to give you the play-by-play:
The movie opens with a montage to the tune of bad Disney channel style music played. The girl’s soccer team has just been cut from Viola’s high school and the only way she can be scouted is if she finds another way to play. When the girl’s team approaches the coach of the guys team and asks to be allowed to try out, but are dismissed (in a sexist way that would have gotten the coach fired and the school sued in real life). Even worse, her boyfriend, the goalie and team captain, is a dick, and is surprised when he is dumped in front of his team.
Viola goes home where we find out her mother is trying to enter her into the Ms. Debutant club (whatever the hell that is…and I don’t remember that part in Twelfth Night). She goes up to her room and catches her brother, Sebastian, getting ready to sneak out. His band is playing in London and his divorced parents think he is staying at each other’s house (which he so sensitively comments on by saying, “Gotta love divorce!”). He asks Viola to call his new school and tell them he is sick and will not be there for the first two weeks. Instead, enlisting the help of her hair designer friend (because we all have hair designer friends in high school) she disguises herself as Sebastian and heads off to school.
The overacting begins as the next hour of movie is filled with nothing but jokes regarding Viola being dressed as a guy, but moving to the important points, Viola meets her roommates. She is the roommate of Duke, the captain of the soccer team. After coming of as odd and awkward (because she is), she convinces Duke to be friends with her after staging the rejection of several of her attractive friends in a pizza parlor in front of him, including her brothers actual girlfriend, which becomes a source of much tension throughout the movie. After that, Viola is regarded as a chick-magnet, even attracting Olivia, the girl Duke has pined for over the past four years.
This newfound female prowess doesn’t help however, as Viola does not make the first string soccer team and requires assistance from none other than Duke, who does this in return for getting her to hook him up with Olivia.
Excuse the digression, but isn’t the whole point of the movie the fact that Viola was supposed to be good enough to play with the guys in the first place and just wasn’t given the chance. Is not the fact that she needs coaching to be first string going against the premise that her first coach was wrong about her not being good enough.
Anyway, Viola has to make an appearance for the Debutant club at the county fair, and as Duke has to be there as well, they go. This is the point where everything goes awry, when Viola changes out of her Sebastian disguise and meets Duke…at the kissing booth (I would love to find just one fair that has a kissing booth. I have been to plenty and have not once seen a kissing booth. Where are all of these mythical kissing booths anyway?). Duke was in line to kiss Olivia, but when Viola takes over, they kiss and start something magnificent…that is until Viola’s old boyfriend starts a fight with Duke, which gets both men kicked out of the fair.
Meanwhile, Olivia’s lust for Sebastian/Viola grows, and she even goes so far as to go out with Duke to make him/her jealous, but it works oppositely as it makes her jealous of Olivia, not Duke. At first, Viola his angry with Olivia, until they meet at a meeting of the Debutants, when she finds out the truth of the jealousy, and instructs Olivia to go straight up to Sebastian and kiss him. Unfortunately, this conversation is overheard by Sebastian’s ex, and another fight ensues.
Her timing could not be worse. Sebastian comes back from London a couple days early, and heads off to school, where as he is stepping out of his cab, he is grabbed by Olivia, who kisses him and walks off. That wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that Duke sees this, and assumes that he has been stabbed in the back. He subsequently takes it out on Viola, and kicks her out of their room.
Doesn’t sound important? Well, Viola was made first string for the big game against her old school, but she sleeps through it because she isn’t in her room and through a case of mistaken identity, Sebastian (not a soccer player) is thrust onto the team.
He plays terribly, but the game is paused when the headmaster of the school, after being informed that Viola has been posing as her brother. Sebastian is asked to prove he is a guy, and so, of course, he pulls down his pants in the middle of the stadium (because there’s nothing else that would prove it). Conflict is avoided for now, but Sebastian is taken out of the game.
During halftime, Viola and Sebastian switch places and Viola requests to be put back into the game, where she plays inspired. She starts to play extremely well, but after getting glared at by Duke she decides the game is up. She walks up to him, takes off her wig, and proves that she is a girl by…flashing him and the entire stadium (once again, clearly the only way…though this time I’m not complaining as much).
You can probably guess what happens from this point on. She scores the winning goal against her old boyfriend assisted by her new one, and they meet again at the Debutant dance and make out. I know, thrilling.
It is unfortunate that Shakespeare had to be downgraded to this. If you see Twelfth Night and then you see this, you can draw some similarities between the characters, but unfortunately, that is about where it ends. You can jack whatever story line you want, but at the end of the day this is nothing but crap pandering to children. Introduce me to a preteen girl who understands Shakespeare, then you can tell me this is intelligent, but until then, I am afraid not.