Clearly I would make a terrible detective… I’ve seen the DVD of It’s A Boy Girl Thing (2006) on sale around town plenty of times, but never actually realised that the girl pictured on the cover was Samaire Armstrong! Apparently all it takes to fool me is for an actress to dye her hair a slightly darker shade, and for the graphic designer to put a guy’s name over her head. Tch!
Anyhoo, for those who don’t know, this teen rom-com features an interesting new twist on the old Freaky Friday formula, with a diametrically opposed boy and girl switching souls, after arguing in front of an ancient Aztec statue on a school field-trip to a museum! ‘Woody Deane’ (Kevin Zegers) and ‘Nell Bedworth’ (Armstrong) are next-door neighbours who go to the same high school, but are in totally different classes… financially, intellectually and socially. Woody is a crass, popular jock, who spends his free time listening to loud rap music and blowing kisses to his penis… while Nell is a preppy, Type-A loner, who spends her free time reading Shakespeare and dreaming of Ivy-clad colleges. Normally I’d be annoyed by the broad stereotyping here, but the whole point of the story is that these characters are forced to see themselves as others see them, and question the values and behaviour that they’ve always accepted at face value in the past. Sure, at first they seem to be locked into a spiral of mutually assured social suicide, but eventually these two crazy kids realise that they’ll be better off working together and learning from the experience, rather than raging against it… and yes, this uniquely intimate experience also brings them together as a romantic pairing. Aw. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting much when I set my digibox to record this flick, but I was pleasantly surprised by how genuinely sweet and funny it turned out to be… I mean, it’s not quite in the same league as American Pie, but it’s definitely a movie I’d buy and recommend to friends.
The downside to these “body-swapping” shenanigans is that we get precious few scenes of Armstrong being super-cute and girly before her character is possessed by Woody’s spirit… and, I hate to say this, but she doesn’t make a very convincing “butch”. She’s still very funny though, bless her… and there’s a scene with “Nell” (technically Woody in Nell’s body) attending an entrance interview for Yale, where she gets stumped by a question and makes this little “Oooh!” noise, and it’s the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard. I have to hand it to Zegers though, he really had a firm handle on both incarnations of his character… he’s totally convincing as a knuckle-dragging chauvinist, but equally authentic as a sensitive “femme”. Brooke D’Orsay also put in a solid performance as ‘Breanna’, the bitchy head cheerleader who’s dating Woody and gets caught in the magical crossfire, but I’ve seen this archetype so many times in the past few weeks, and I’m a little weary of it now… she is super-pretty though, I’ll give her that.
Fun fact: Although I call it the “Freaky Friday formula”, one of the earliest entries in this genre is a novel titled Vice Versa: A Lesson to Fathers by F. Anstey, first published in 1882, which concerns a Victorian business man swapping bodies with his son, and learning that schooldays aren’t always as carefree as some adults choose to remember them!