It's A Boy Girl Thing
There is an old saying that you can’t truly know somebody until you have walked a mile in their shoes. We may be able to sympathize with another person but are never really able to know what it is like to be them; to be in their skin. This basic concept has been the foundation of many stories over the years. In simpler times years ago there was ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ which a rich prince and lowly commoner change places. Of course this was done in a time when fiction had to be credible. The boys just changed their clothes and where they lived. In more modern times thee story becomes takes on a more fantasy motif. Now the typical telling of the tale involves the minds of the two individuals physically exchanging bodies. One of the earliest of this format was from Disney with ‘Freaky Friday’ originally released in 1976 and remade in 2003. In both films it was a mother and daughter that switched bodies. This was given a gender twist in 1987 with ‘Like Father like Son’. In all of these films the age difference was the main topic for humor. With the lamentable ‘The Hot Chick’ in 2002 the theme moved to the differences between age and gender with man changing bodies with a teenage girl. Now another variation on the theme is available on DVD, ‘It’s a Boy Girl Thing’. While this film has its flaws include a perchance for juvenile jokes, it does hold together nicely as a really great popcorn flick. Since the film deals with teenagers, one boy one girl, this level of humor is only to be expected and can more the most part be excused.
Writer Geoff Deane has a fairly impressive resume mostly in television and some light comedies on the big screen. He was the writer for several episodes of ‘Bird of a Feather’ and ‘Last Man Standing’ as well as the drag queen comedy flick ‘Kinky Boots’, At least he has some experience in penning a script that deals with gender issues. Here he dies manage to provide a story that provides a fresh twist on an old idea. As with most comedies that concentrate on a pair of teenagers who hate each other you know from the start that the film will turn into a romantic comedy and they will wind up with each other in the end. This is not a spoiler it is just the way things go in these movies. Nell Bedworth (Samaire Armstrong) and Woody Deane (Kevin Zegers) have been next door neighbors for most of their lives. They are also complete opposites in every way and hate each other. They have never had real conversation only arguments; during a field trip to a museum one of these arguments gets them into trouble. The argument in question just happened to be in front of an ancient Aztec totem. It has magical properties and the next morning they awaken in each other’s body. Initially Dean has to take the low road for humor. There is the expected reaction when Woody discovers his female anatomy and Nell realizes there is an unexpected appendage she has to now cope with. Since they hate each other they try to destroy each other’s reputation at school. In good time the come to the realization that unless they work together they will be stuck this way forever. While the other movies with similar themes focused on the difference in the generations here it is all gender related. Using teenagers is perfect for this since this is the time that puberty and social pressures make gender the most defining aspects of life. Besides changing genders the pair also has to move in completely different and opposing social circles. She is a nerd; concerned with academic achievement. He, on the other hand, is the prototypical jock who sees life as the time to brag and poster between games. On the downside is most of the ancillary characters are one dimensional and stereotypical. This extends to a bit of stunt casting with Sharon Osbourne as Woody’s white trash mother, Della. While she is perfect in the role of a crash, thoughtless and vulgar woman the role adds little to the actual story.
The film is directed by Nick Hurran who has done a number of little comedies and television work. He does include some humor and nudity that is misplaced in a film rated PG-13. The screener provided for review was listed as not rated but the running time of 95 minutes which is the same as the theatrical release. It is just another case of the whim of the MPAA overriding actual criteria for rating a film. Hurran is very good at the visual joke. When the two try their best to ruin the other they dress in a way that is sure to lead to social death in high school. She dresses her new jock body in an outfit that screams nerd while he makes her body look like it is for sale down at the docks. Hurran does show the pair trying to get the upper hand over the other’s actions such as when Woody threatens to loose Nell’s body’s virginity. Of course he is not very happy with the mechanics of the proposed action from a personal viewpoint. The turning point of the film is when they are each faced with a situation that will make or break the rest of their lives. Woody finds out that a college recruiter will be at the big game. He has to teach Nell how too use her new body to play football. There is a quid pro quo when Nell discovers that her interview for Yale is sooner than she though and Woody will have to take here body to the all important meeting. Hurran allows these overly coincidental situations to develop in a fairly believable fashion; at least believable by romantic comedy standards which are much more forgiving that usual.
The main cast does pretty well here in pulling off the improbable plot. Samaire Armstrong has experience with television with featured roles on ‘The O.C.’, ‘Entourage’ and ‘Dirty Sexy Money’. At twenty six at the time of filming she was technically a bit old too play a high school senior but her fresh appearance helps to sell the part. She is well cast as the studious Nell and pulls off the transformation when she has to emulate the mannerisms of a rude jock guy. Kevin Zegers has a bit more difficult time of acting liker a boy trapped in a girl’s body. In a way this actually works out since it just adds to the uncomfortable way he feels and the conflict between his male urges and his new form.
The film is released to DVD by Anchor Bay. They are always on the lookout for little lesser known flicks that would normally reach a wide audience in the theaters. The video is a nicely mastered anamorphic 1.85:1 with excellent color balance and contrast. The audio is a full and rich Dolby 5.1. Consider one of the executive producers for this movie was Elton John you can expect a robust pop oriented sound track. There are also plenty of extras included.
This is a fun flick that should be for older teens and above not the whole family. It will make a fun Saturday afternoon’s entertainment,.