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Thursday, May 29, 2008

IT'S A BOY GIRL THING -- DVD review by porfle

There seems to have been an abundance of these body-swapping comedies in the last few decades, but rarely are they as much fun as IT'S A BOY GIRL THING, a 2006 romantic comedy from director Nick Hurran and writer Geoff Deane that's due to hit DVD shelves on June 17th. Not too chick-flick sappy or frat-rat gross, it strikes a pretty good balance between the two and manages to strike an emotional chord while still being laugh-out-loud funny at times.

Kevin Zegers (2004's DAWN OF THE DEAD) plays Woody, the popular, pretty-boy quarterback who dates vapid head cheerleader Breanna (Brooke D'Orsay) and has his sights set on a football scholarship. His next-door neighbor is the bookish, socially-stunted virgin Nell (Samaire Armstrong, "The O.C.", "Entourage") who dreams of going to Yale. They can't stand one another, mainly due to their lack of empathy for each other's lifestyles, circumstances, points of view, etc. But after a school field trip to the museum, during which they have a heated argument in front of a statue of the Aztec god of sorcery, Tezcatlipoca--yes, it's pretty contrived, but what the heck--they wake up in each other's bodies. And, despite my initial fears to the contrary, this actually leads to a series of genuinely funny consequences.

Most of the obvious stuff is explored, of course--Woody/Nell reacts in horror to find that "it" is missing, while Nell/Woody is aghast at the morning "Woody, Jr." that's making a pup tent out of the bed covers. (Surprisingly, no mention is made of things like applying makeup or dealing with that time of the month, although later on during a pajama party, the girls give Nell/Woody an eye-opening introduction to the joys of bikini waxing.)

At first, they use the situation to wreak havoc in each other's lives. Nell/Woody dresses like a preppy dweeb, breaks up with Breanna, mutters "Hmm...nice penis" to the guy at the adjoining urinal, and is a total loss during football practice. Meanwhile, Woody/Nell flounces through school looking like a cheap hooker, seriously lowers Nell's grade point average in record time, and almost loses "her" virginity to a hairy Italian dude in a trailer park before fleeing in horror at the sight of his engorged dudehood. This is pretty funny stuff--I guffawed numerous times, in fact--and the leads use actual acting skills to pull it off. Best of all, none of it is so over-the-top farcical that we stop caring about the characters or buying the premise.

Of course, since this is a "romantic" comedy, the two of them must eventually stop bickering and start falling for each other. And as they're each facing a highly important event in their lives--the big football game for Woody, a critical interview to get into Yale for Nell--they must work together to help each other succeed. This takes the movie to a different level in which it manages to get genuinely emotional (yes, I got verklempt a couple of times) without being too sappy.

Brooke D'Orsay does the slutty cheerleader routine perfectly, while Mpho Koaho is suitably Neanderthal-ish as Woody's best friend, "Horse." Robert Joy and Sherry Miller are Nell's straightlaced parents, the Bedworths. Familiar character actor Maury Chaykin plays Woody's oafish dad, Stan, and Sharon Osbourne herself shows up as his ditzy mom, Della. Best of all, Zegers and Armstrong give thoughtful and perceptive performances that allow us to sympathize with their characters even as we're laughing at them.

Director Hurran has a fine visual style that's way above average for this kind of movie, and handles the comedic and heartfelt stuff with equal skill. My only gripe is that the movie has too many endings, but they're all pretty good so I didn't mind all that much. This is a "feel-good" movie in the best sense of the word.

The DVD comes with anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Surround sound. Extras include a "making of" featurette with co-executive producer Elton John, brief interviews with Kevin Zegers and Samaire Armstrong, cast bios, an "Are You More Boy Or Girl?" quiz (apparently, I'm a "Macho Man", heh, heh), a history of the Aztec statue of Tezcatlipoca (which, it eventually dawned on me, was pretty much a load of B.S.), and a trailer. The song soundtrack is pretty awesome, featuring the likes of Eminem, The Black Eyed Peas, Girls Aloud, Deep Purple, and, of course, Ozzy Osbourne and Elton John.

IT'S A BOY GIRL THING may be the best body-swapping movie ever--it's certainly one of the most fun and well-made of the genre. And its deft blend of semi-crude comedy with heartwarming sensitivity (in doses well short of being nausea-inducing) may make it a sure bet for boy-girl viewing.

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