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Sydney White 

Amanda Bynes is the most unexpected of recent kid-market female stars. Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) has attitude. Hilary Duff has flair. Mandy Moore brought maturity to the mix. But Bynes is a comedian. This allows her to stand against her contemporaries' vanity. In Sydney White she continues She's the Man's rejection of harmful gender roles. It doesn't matter so much that Sydney White isn't funny: it's Bynes' habit of topping a bad joke with a goofy facial expression that highlights the star's bravery in looking corny.

As the freshman of the title, Bynes' opposition with the evil leader of a blond sorority (Sara Paxton) is a familiar teen-movie conflict. An argument can be made that Sydney White is equating girliness with heartlessness. But Sydney's refusal of the Kappa sisters is really about embracing femininity on her own terms—apart from the materialism and back-stabbing her classmates take for granted.

When screenwriter Chad Gomez Creasey and director Joe Nussbaum start modelling the movie on Snow White, Sydney finds solace with seven dorks. The boys are as unbelievably clueless as the girls are mean. And the script is inconsistent about the degree of its heroine's nerd cred. Sydney freaks her first roommate out with her comic-book knowledge, only to act way above understanding her frat brothers' Star Wars references.

Sydney White's lack of narrative sophistication is made up for by its sincerity. The lesson that even the most powerful individuals are dorks is one that many people don't learn till after university, if ever.

Bynes lets loose within Sydney White's conventions and conclusions, pushing them until they mean something.

Good Luck Chuck

It's my belief that the reason many guys overstate their hatred of Dane Cook isn't because of his comedic style: Cook would be an easy write-off in their eyes if he weren't the one male comic with significant popularity amongst college-age girls. On the flip side, some girls must hate it that almost every hetero guy over age 12 has at some point been infatuated with Jessica Alba. As humans, we must set aside these differences by unanimously agreeing to hate Good Luck Chuck>.

The disaster of Good Luck Chuck has nothing to do with the casting of Cook or Alba. They handle their roles with whatever professionalism is possible. It's a lack of innocence that corrupts the film's sex-comedy function. Under the hand of director Mark Helfrich (previously the editor of Brett Ratner's films), it's a movie that's angry about sex.

Charlie (Cook) is a dentist who was cursed as a child: Every woman he sleeps with will fall in love with the next guy she meets. This makes Charlie a hot property among women looking for Mr. Right.

Cam (Alba) is an accident-prone penguin specialist. Whenever the movie gets boring, she can smash into something. These traits foolishly try to disguise that the pair fit the rom-com status quo. This standard Hollywood coupling has nothing worth saying, and lack the chemistry to momentarily distract from the film's shallowness.

This elitism turns to bullying in the casting of an obese girl who Charlie has sex with to prove his curse can't be real. The girl's name is Jodie Stewart, and her character is also furious, coated in acne and has worse table manners than a three-year-old. Stewart won the role off MySpace, where people are desperate for fame. And where some filmmakers can sleep at night by awarding them roles they could never offer a professional.

Wish Palermo luck at palermo@thecoast.ca.

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