Viola Hastings (Amanda Bynes) is a Cornwall high school student who is the star of the girls soccer team, and whose main passion in life is playing soccer. When Cornwall cuts the soccer team from their program, and refuses to allow Viola to try out for the boys team, Viola poses as her twin brother Sebastian, who is away in London for a couple of weeks. She enrols at his new school Illyria (Cornwall’s soccer rival) so she can try out for their soccer team. With the help of her friends, Viola dons a boys wig, sticks on some sideburns, takes a crash course in how to walk, talk and act like a man, and passes herself off as her brother.
Viola/Sebastian’s life at her/his new school becomes complicated when she falls for her new roommate, Duke Orsino (Channing Tatum). He has a crush on Olivia (Laura Ramsey), who in turn is smitten with Viola/Sebastian. Also in the mix is Monique (Alex Breckenridge), Sebastian’s totally conceited girlfriend, whom Viola dumps.
The big day of the soccer match between Cornwall and Illyria arrives. Things go awry when Viola sleeps in and her brother, the real Sebastian, who can’t play soccer, arrives.
Gender issues; relationship jealousy
- A fight erupts between Duke and Viola’s ex-boyfriend Justin (Robert Hoffman) after Justin catches Duke kissing Viola at a kissing booth. There are a couple of punches to the face, some grabbing, pushing and shoving, which ends in the two rolling about on the ground.
- Viola, Olivia and Monique became entangled in a fight when Olivia and Monique argue over Sebastian. The fight includes slaps across the face and head, punches to the stomach, pushing and shoving and the throwing of shoes. This all results in the three girls rolling about on the floor.
- At the soccer match between Cornwall and Illyria, Justin acts in an threatening and aggressive manner towards Duke. Justin slaps his own face several times, inferring that he intends to do this to Duke.
- Later in the game, an all-out fight breaks out between the two rival teams, involving some punching and a lot of pulling, pushing and shoving. The teams chant war cries such as, ‘Who’s gunna bring blood and pain’.
Content that may disturb children
Although the low-level violence described above is depicted in a comic light, it could still disturb or negatively influence some children in this age group.
Although children over eight might appear to cope better with the movie’s low-level violence, they could still be negatively influenced by it.
- When Viola’s friends help her out by pretending that they are Sebastian’s ex-girlfriends, they make comments such as, ‘I was thinking about you all night … call me anytime’ and ‘In the end I wasn’t woman enough for you’.
- Sebastian’s ex-girlfriend Monique comments, ‘Girls with arses like mine don’t talk to boys with faces like yours’.
- Viola as Sebastian says, ‘Kiss the crap out of her’ and ‘Which one would you rather see naked?’
- In a reference to wearing high-heeled shoes, a character says, ‘Heels are men’s invention to try and make a woman’s butt smaller’.
- A deliberately ‘ugly duckling’ type girl indicates, through body and facial gestures, that she is open to advances from the opposite sex. For example, she says, ‘I know tricks’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some partial nudity and implied sexual activity in this movie. For example:
- The real Sebastian proves his gender by pulling down his pants to expose his genitals (lower legs only are shown).
- Viola proves her gender by pulling up her top to expose her breasts. Her breasts are not shown, but Viola’s fellow soccer players stare.
- There are a couple of scenes in which Viola walks in on her male team mates having showers. Only naked upper torsos are exposed.
- There is a beach soccer match in which numerous girls wear bikinis that expose cleavage.
- Some cheerleader-type girls wear costumes that expose their cleavage and midriffs, and some have pierced navels.
- Viola as Sebastian grabs a would-be pretend girlfriend on the bottom.
- There is some kissing on the mouth.
This movie contains occasional, very mild coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
She’s the Man is a romantic comedy that offers a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It is well suited to its targeted audience of younger teenage girls. Although the lead character is not all that convincing as a boy, her character is very likeable as a girl, and the movie does contain some funny moments.
The main message of the movie is about the unfairness of being treated unequally because of gender. There is also a message about the unethical use of emotional blackmail, as in deliberately making someone you are attracted to jealous in order to gain attention. There are some mixed messages though, as Viola is rewarded for her use of deception to gain what she wants, and there are no negative consequences for her deception.
You might like to talk about a major theme in the movie. This is how Viola perseveres through adversity to obtain her goals, and the manner in which her friends support her. You could also talk about what can really happen if people use deception to get what they want. A discussion with adolescents on constructive ways to handle sexual jealousy could also prove helpful. Another theme you could discuss is gender inequality in the past and how it pervades the present.