Making the Grades
Amanda Bynes seems to be taking her career development very seriously, picking projects with more substance (and often more edge) than those of many young actors. This contemporary adaptation of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fairytale is no different.
Raised by her single dad (John Schneider) on the construction site, Sydney White (Amanda Bynes) has developed useful building skills, a can-do attitude and a comfort level around most men. But now daddy's little assistant is trading in her tool belt for a laptop and heading off to university with plans to pledge the same sorority as her late mom did.
However, Sydney soon discovers things have changed at the posh Greek house since her mother lived there. At the moment, this sisterhood has a nasty side to it. Led by sorority and student body president Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton), the pinned members of the society force the new girls through a series of mean-spirited and humiliating pranks before picking their recruits --one of which is not Sydney.
Forced to pack her bags and move out of the palatial sorority house, the rejected freshman ends up in a rundown hovel known as the Vortex with a group of seven hopeless geeks. While moving in with a bunch of guys isn't a stretch for Sydney, these nerds are totally mystified by a girl. Still, despite her odd housemates and their dilapidated dwelling, Sydney is content to live with the misfits. Then she comes across Rachael's plans to demolish their home and replace it with an exclusive life center for the sorority.
Mounting a campaign for the upcoming student government elections, Sydney rallies her roommates, Lenny (Jack Carpenter), Terrence (Jeremy Howard), Gurkin (Danny Strong), Jeremy (Adam Hendershott), Spanky (Samm Levine), George (Arnie Pantoja) and Embele (Donte Bonner), to help her take back the campus. Running on a platform that focuses on the similarities the student body shares rather than the differences, she tries to garner votes from all sections of the campus.
But when Rachel launches a tainted apple at Sydney's attempt to unite the undergraduates, it takes the help of a prince (Matt Long) to get things back on track.
Offering a refreshing take on an old narrative, this script cleverly incorporates elements of the fairytale into a modern day setting. Yet despite its good messages -- acceptance, tolerance, and the success of hard work -- the film still slips in bouts of bullying, infrequent profanities, alcohol-fueled parties and one sex-obsessed geek who is trying desperately to lose his virginity. With so much good to say to young teens, it's a shame this story is poisoned with a little too much content.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Sydney White.
Why is Sydney so eager to join the sorority? What does she discover about herself and the other girls during pledge week? Why is she worried about disappointing her father?
What similarities does this film have with the original fairytale? How do the writers use names to distinguish the personalities of the characters? How do the seven geeks compare with the dwarfs?
What lessons does Sydney learn from her classroom experience that applies to real life? How does she implement those lessons into her campaign?