“Sydney White” should have stuck with its original title: “Sydney White and the Seven Dorks.” That would have given audiences fair warning about what they would get for the price of admission.
In the title role Amanda Bynes proves to be the best thing this movie has going for it. Last seen as the over-the-top Penny Pingleton in “Hairspray”, she gets a chance to demonstrate a bit more breadth.
Sydney lost her mother at a young age. Raised by her dad, a plumber, she’s not a girl’s girl. Coming of age at building sites under the mentorship of construction workers does not create a debutante.
She arrives at college more accustomed to coveralls than dresses. Pledging her mother’s sorority, Kappa Phi Nu, proves a bad idea. Rabbit food diets and prissiness just doesn’t cut it.
The situation goes from lousy to plain ugly when sorority head Rachel Witchburn (Sara Paxton) spies her boyfriend Tyler Prince (Matt Long) talking to Sydney. Tyler and Rachel have been an item since middle school.
In a move that eventually backfires, the Witch permanently expels Sydney from the sorority.
Ousted from her living space, Sydney finds herself sitting in a rainstorm outside a condemned, but occupied, ramshackle house. The Vortex, named for its tendency to suck in losers, sits in the middle of the well-apportioned dwellings on Greek Row housing fraternities and sororities.
The dorky inhabitants, taking pity on the soaked and homeless damsel in distress, offer her a place to stay. Her new roomies, roughly based on the dwarfs, include nerds whose characteristics are Sleepy, Dopey, Brainy, Sneezy and Horny.
But Sydney is no Snow White, who would have fit the dainty confines from which our girl was so rudely rejected.
Rallying the dormant political spirit of her nerdy, lethargic roommates, she enters them in the election for student council of which Rachael is president. Heretofore controlled by the Greeks, it’s the center of student power.
Meanwhile, Sydney’s status on campus is rising and the school’s figurative mirror-mirror-on-the wall, an online popularity rating system, now has our heroine unseating the evil Witchburn.
Rachel’s fury frightens even her sorority sisters, as she concocts a plan to reclaim her position and her man. Although the bitchy blond brews up some powerful evil, there’s no stink a plumber’s daughter can’t handle.
“Sydney White”, another movie pitting geeks and Greeks, in general does not rise above the standard fare of such offerings. A cute idea, it could have easily benefited from a bit more fleshing out.
It mostly serves as a vehicle for Bynes. She’s appealing in that Drew Barrymore way, without the over-the-top vulnerability — like a young Sally Field — just pretty enough and huggable.
She carries the movie on her own.
Without a doubt we’ll be seeing a lot more of her and she’ll be seeing a lot more money.