The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Sydney White

Written by: Mike Caccioppoli, Feature Film Critic

ImageAlthough the modern-day fairy tale Sydney White takes place on a college campus, the film is aimed at the high school crowd. Amanda Bynes plays the title character, a blue-collar girl who's starting her freshman year at her late mother's alma mater – and she's trying to get into the same sorority as her mother.

The plot thickens, as it were, when the head of the sorority (whose name is, no kidding, Rachel Witchburn) tries to ruin Sydney's freshman year for no other reason than that she's threatened by her common ways. Oh, and Ms. Witchburn's ex-boyfriend takes a liking to Sydney, which only gives the evil sorority head the impetus to oust Sydney from the sorority. When that happens, Sydney shacks up with seven dorks in a ramshackle house called The Vortex. Together they team up to wrest control of the school from Rachel.

Sound familiar? If you're humming "heigh-ho, heigh-ho" to yourself, you're on the right track. In the dubiously hallowed tradition of O, Ever After and 10 Things I Hate About You, Sydney White puts a modern spin on an old legend. The seven dorks even echo characteristics of Disney's original seven dwarfs. Incidentally, can you name them all? It took me a few seconds to recall them, as I hadn't read the fairy tale since I was a kid.

Did the film have to try to be this cute and clever? Of course not, since teenagers will eat this stuff up no matter how it’s presented – and that’s why I have to give the filmmakers credit. At least they tried to do something different. Will the current teenagers even know about Snow White? I shudder to think they might not. Be that as it may, the seven dorks are amiable characters and Bynes is sweet and engaging as Sydney. The plot is painfully predictable (as expected), but when Mr. Prince kisses Ms. White and wakes her up just in time to save the school from Witchburn, I had a warm smile on my face.

But let's keep that between us, OK?