Sunday, July 06, 2008

It's a Boy Girl Thing

You and Me, or I?

I know what you're saying. There are countless of movies out there involving body switches, either parental-kid (like Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday), and cross-gender, be it deliberate (like Amanda Bynes in She's The Man) or through inexplicable supernatural occurence (like Jack Neo's Just Follow Law, or The Hot Chick starring Rob Schneider and Rachel McAdams). Whatever the case is, it seems that such stories still can find a market and a demand, otherwise they wouldn't be made, will they? And comedies which arise from such situations almost always seem to recycle some jokes, removing plenty of lustre from what could have been funny, but not so, because of familiarity with the subject matter.

Surprisingly, It's a Boy Girl Thing still worked, for me at least. Sure, it had the usual jokes with respect to changing and getting used to the new bodies, taking advantage of the change to get chummy with the boys/girls with ulterior motives, and doing everything just wrong deliberately so as to get back at the person whose body you now possess. But what this one had, was plenty of heart, pounding on the universal theme of empathy, of not being able to fully understand someone, until you get under their skin and walk around in it, in which case this movie of course took things literally.

Samaire Armstrong stars as Nell Bedworth, who's into literature, and whose snooty, prim and proper parents are holding their hopes of her daughter getting into Yale. Her neighbour is school quarterback jock Woody Deane (Kevin Zegers), whose family is pretty much of the average joe, laissez faire type, whose dream for their son is to work at a sweatshop from 9 to 5. Naturally the school jock has a minor aspiration different from his parent's expectation, and that is to score a college education through football.

It's no rocket science that the two of them don't get along, and as the opening credits illustrate, they get on each other's nerves ever so often, that some ancient god decide to play a prank on them by switching their bodies. Thus unleashing pandemonium in their lives as they have to grapple with living in a foreign body, as well as to ensure that they stay on their respective course to pursue their dreams. It also becomes the usual opposite attracts story, starting with their adversary with each other, to the inevitable finale, but what indeed was marvelous here, were the little scenes crafted where they have to begin to lean more about each other, and to gain each other's trust.

What I felt helped the movie was its decision to junk a lot of unnecessary subplots that usually bloat such movies, to just keep it simple and very focused, delivering almost every time it called for a punchline, or during non-comedic moments with serious drama, while laying off the melodramatics. Simple words uttered, simple actions made, spoke loads and went the mile. The chemistry between Samaire Armstrong and Kevin Zegers worked wonders too, whether they're playing it straight, or playing each other's characters, and sometimes there are situations where you just have to do a double take to put things into their correct perspective.

If there should be a gripe, it would be the jarring edit made for an NC16 rating. This is one movie that didn't fear getting into the politically incorrect field, filled with nudity and plenty of coarse language, which I thought was somewhat of an adults-only version of a genre done so many times. And if you're a fan of rap and hip-hop, then you'll probably find yourself grooving to the soundtrack from Eminem to the Black Eyed Peas.

This movie comes recommended. It's not perfect, but it was jolly good fun.

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