The 2006 film She’s the Man, directed by Andy Fickman, centers on a young woman named Viola, who excels in soccer and plays for the Cornwall Academy squad. Unfortunately, the girls’ soccer team is eliminated since not enough girls signed up, leaving her with little choice but to join the boys’ squad, whose coach forbids her from trying out, citing that girls aren’t as fast, strong, or athletic as boys. When her twin brother chooses to skip school and join a band tour to London without telling anybody, she seizes the opportunity to dress like him, have a makeover, and visit his school, Illyria, in order to try out for the boys’ soccer team there. Her deceptions are challenging to follow, not to mention her frequent personality changes, which make for a hilarious comedy show and romance thanks to the love triangle she creates with Duke (played by Channing Tatum) and Olivia (played by Laura Ramsey).
The movie manages to show the value of perseverance while eliminating gender privilege in professional sports.
Viola plays soccer at the beach with Justin (played by Robert Hoffman), her boyfriend, from the beginning of the film, and it is immediately apparent how talented she is. He even acknowledges that she is probably better than half of the players on the boys’ team, but he refuses to say as much in front of his teammates and coach when Viola asks him to support her at a tryout. Justin’s admiration for Viola’s abilities is supported by the development that he has observed in her since she began working out with him. When Viola transfers to her brother’s school in the role of Sebastian, her first rehearsal is a flurry, and she only makes it to the second string primarily because she is shown to be less physically capable than most other guys and hence burns out more quickly. Fortunately, she creates a deal with Duke, her roommate, who offers to assist her with training in exchange for her helping him to find a date. The movie then demonstrates her drive to improve through her early-morning rigorous training, which provides her an extra edge to get ahead of some of her teammates and earn her a spot on an all-boys squad, something she presumably wouldn’t have gotten if she had tried out as herself due to her gender. This emphasizes the idea that effort may replace incapacity, proving the need for respect for both genders, which is effectively encapsulated by Illyria’s coach’s astute remark that there is no room for prejudice based on gender.
“She’s the Man” does a wonderful job of illustrating how culture has influenced the growth of female athletics.
Despite her talent and tenacity, Viola’s hopes for a career in soccer are nearly extinguished by her fellow female teammates when their low turnout causes the girls’ soccer team to be cut. The low turnout may have been caused by societal pressure or prejudice, which may have discouraged some female players from being confident enough to consider the sport. Another angle to it is that, as Sebastian jokingly noted, the proportion of female soccer players who achieve major success is probably comparable to the proportion of bands who achieve major success, which may disqualify it as a realistic career choice for most people. Viola’s mother evidently tries to discourage her from participating in soccer and advises her to instead focus on her search for the ideal attire to dazzle as a debutante at the country club. Fortunately, she gets a chance to impress when she plays Cornwall in an unusual match full of comedy when it is revealed that Viola had been impersonating her brother. The team does give her a chance to finish the game, and she ends up scoring a game-deciding goal against her ex-boyfriend, giving him a good sense of karma, which earns her a permanent position on the team, as seen in the movie’s final scene.
The film is an interesting adaptation of Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night.”
Similar to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “She’s the Man” has a girl who poses as her twin brother in order to land a job, in this instance, a position at a men’s soccer club. A number of the cast names are also taken from the play, including Olivia, Viola, Duke (who is a real Duke in the play), and Sebastian, where Viola is the girl pretending to be her brother Sebastian. In this classic love triangle, Duke is infatuated with Olivia and uses Viola to get close to her, but Olivia ultimately falls for Viola’s mimicry. In the meantime, Duke is the object of Viola’s feelings. With the help of the film director and the actors, the modern remake successfully tackles pressing societal topics like gender bias and discrimination in a high school setting while retaining the romance and humor of the original. The film’s $57.2 million box office revenue against a $25 million or so budget further demonstrates its popularity with its audience.
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