Sydney White Joe Nussbaum

Sydney White Joe Nussbaum
This may be the grand high Pooh-Bah of backhanded compliments but Sydney White is kind and good-natured enough to distract you from its low level of inspiration. Though there’s absolutely nothing here that resembles an artistic sensibility, the sweetly generous nature of the project is surprisingly redeeming — you feel good about it even if you don’t especially enjoy it.

Amanda Bynes stars as the eponymous heroine, a plumber’s daughter who yearns to enter the same sorority as her late mother. But once she arrives, she’s humiliated and cast out by evil Greek-council princess Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton), who rules with an iron fist. She falls in with seven geeks at the outcast residence, moulds them into fighters and takes on the sorority snobs in the student government.

Yes, the thing is based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and that’s a sign of desperation at the script level. Further, the array of geeks aren’t particularly endearing, save for the strangely charismatic Lenny (Jack Carpenter). But the film goes as far as a teen comedy can in being inclusive and even vaguely political. Not by much (not by much at all) mind you, but enough to show that the filmmakers are trying within the limitations of both the form and their imaginations.

In the corrosive, mean-spirited world of American film comedy, this movie dares to be warm, kind and giving, which is incredibly refreshing under the circumstances. I can’t say that I feel a pressing need to ever see this movie again, or that you should pay real money to see it, but should you find yourself with nothing else to watch one night while channel surfing you can bank on the fact that there are far, far worse fates than this. (Universal)