Ever since Amy Heckerling’s Clueless loosely adapted Jane Austen’s Emma to a modern High School setting it’s been the done thing to drop classic texts into a contemporary teenage setting. Joe Nussbaum’s Sydney White, which was released in the US shortly after David Wain’s terrible The Ten (based on The Ten Commandments) should mark an end to this tedious practice.
On paper, Nussbaum, the man behind the excellent, highly imaginative 1999 short George Lucas in Love, looks like the only man who could pull off such a hackneyed idea as updating the Snow White myth. But his talents or lack of them have nothing to do with anything because this is an Amanda Bynes vehicle all the way.
Bynes plays our eponymous hero: she’s an institution Stateside who had her own variety show, The Amanda Show, commissioned when she was just 13, so few risks are taken here.
The initial set-up diverting enough. Our wicked stepmother is sorority leader and school President Rachel Wicthburn (Sara Paxton) who spends a portion of each day looking at her modern mirror on the wall, the college website Hot or Not? Unfortunately, such invention does not last as the movie quickly descends into tedious schmaltz.