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'Sydney White' is a campus fairy tale

September 21, 2007|Jan Stuart | Newsday

In "Sydney White," a broad, mean-girls take on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Amanda Bynes plays a teenager with the rugged soul of a plumber's daughter and the elite aspirations of her late sorority-gal mom. At home, she wears plaid shirts and wields a wrench to the manner born, but she enrolls in the whitest university in the country and rushes at the blondest, most uppity house on campus.

Sydney's nemesis is the sorority queen, a pointy-nosed goddess named Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton), who believes she is the fairest girl around and has the Web hits to prove it. While Rachel does her wicked best to undermine the new dark-haired pledge's bid for sisterhood, the resident fraternity royalty, Tyler Prince (Matt Long), woos Sydney with clumsy mixed messages. Enter the seven dorks, a brotherhood of geeky rejects whom Sydney whips into a civic frenzy in order to beat the Greeks at the upcoming school election. And so on, ad nauseam.

It's disheartening to see the peach-pretty Bynes anointed as official spokeswoman for college castaways.

It's also a little weird trying to grapple with a movie in which the only black women who can be spotted, if you look close, are on a frat-party dance floor, and in which Jews and gays are relegated to sideshow status. Step right up and see the drag queen and the weird, happy guys with the black hats and the pavess.

Directed by Joe Nussbaum and filmed in that mecca of diversity, Orlando, Fla., "Sydney White" is a carnival of ethnic and social stereotypes that are rising up against the lily-white status quo. In Hollywood, blond princesses and fairy tales die hard.


"Sydney White." MPAA rating: PG-13 for some language, sexual humor and partying. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minute. In general release.

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