Sydney White

Gene Page/Universal Pictures

Review in a Hurry:  In this modern adaptation of Snow White, Amanda Bynes aims to delight training-bra tween audiences, and does so splendidly. In fact, Sydney White sparkles with such creativity and punch it can easily enchant even the crabbiest of postpubescent crowds.

The Bigger Picture:  With so many eager Amanda Bynes fans on this earth, it would've been a cinch for the makers of Sydney White to slather the former Nickelodeon sketch-comedy star in lip gloss and give her some drivel to say about "girl power." Instead, director Joe Nussbaum (most famous for his career-launching spoof George Lucas in Love) and writer Chad Creasey have put together a thoughtful little comedy that keenly explores issues of elitism, class tension and conformity—all through the lens of the college Greek system.

Sydney, who was raised by her widower construction-worker father, is off to her freshman year in college and has big plans to pledge at her mother's former sorority. Sydney's tomboy demeanor and modest background leave her wholly unprepared for the high maintenance, materialistic, antagonistic world of sorority sisterhood. So, she's eventually expelled from the cloister of bubbling blondes and ends up on the doorstep of the "seven dorks."

The seven dorks—which include a nebbish hypochondriac, a narcoleptic Nigerian exchange student and an angry blogger—expose Sydney to the oligarchy-style oppression of the Greek system. The Greeks comprise 10 percent of the student population but control 80 percent of the student budget.

Nothing short of class war ensues. Sydney leads in the insurrection, emancipates the unwashed masses and gets a hard-core makeout sesh with requisite hunk. This might sound a little cutesy and cliché, but the script's wits and charm—as well as Bynes' quirky demeanor and excellent comedic delivery—triumph.

It's the seven dorks, though, who steal the show. The filmmakers went the extra mile to create real dorks, too: lovable, socially awkward but well-meaning outcasts whose banter and brotherhood are rooted in a love of obscure movies, ninjas, pirates, Halo and comic books. Bynes and the geek cadre are so charming you can't help but root for them.

The humor is fast-paced, jovial with just a tinge of sarcasm and never cynical. The blend of immediate pop-culture references and fairy-tale throwbacks combine to make Sydney White the fairest tween comedy of them all.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  There's nothing new to this underdog story. The heroes are the misfits and villains are the popular kids. If you prefer to see snobby elites get their comeuppance with a little bit more raunch and gore, stay home and rent Heathers.

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