SWAP SLOP

IT’S A BOY GIRL THING ★★ Di­rected by Nick Hur­ran. Star­ring Kevin Zegers, Sa­maire Arm­strong, Mpho Koaho, Brooke D’Or­say, Sharon Os­bourne, Maury Chaykin, Robert Joy, Sherry Miller 15A cert, gen re­lease, 95 min

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - REVIEWS -

IN HIS lyrics for the 1970 Kinks sin­gle Lola, Ray Davies ob­served that “girls will be boys and boys will be girls”, un­wit­tingly an­tic­i­pat­ing a re­cur­ring theme in sev­eral body swap come­dies, the latest of which is aptly ti­tled It’s a Boy Girl Thing. How­ever, the screen­play, by Kinky Boots writer Ge­off Deane, is firmly rooted in a sce­nario that pre­dates the in­ven­tion of cin­ema: the at­trac­tion of op­po­sites.

Woody (Kevin Zegers) and Nell (Sa­maire Arm­strong) live next door to each other in Amer­i­can sub­ur­bia and at­tend the same high school, but they have noth­ing else in com­mon. He’s a coarse and randy jock, the star quar­ter­back of the school foot­ball team and aiming for a sports schol­ar­ship, while she’s a de­mure and vir­ginal swot hop­ing for a place at Yale. He blares out loud hip-hop while she tries to get im­mersed in Romeo and Juliet. He shares a clut­tered home and greasy fries with his par­ents, while she and her fam­ily dine on healthy fare in their per­fectly or­dered home.

On a school trip to a mu­seum, Woody and Nell just hap­pen to fall un­der the spell of a mis­chievous Aztec god – Night at the Mu­seum, re­viewed at left, af­firms just how com­mon­place such events are th­ese days – and they wake up the next morn­ing in each other’s bod­ies.Cue broad and ob­vi­ous comic con­se­quences: he-as-she can’t hook on a bra; she-as-he is shocked to have a rag­ing morn­ing erec­tion.

It is, of course, in­evitable that they will learn from each other’s ex­pe­ri­ences, that Woody dis­cov­ers his met­ro­sex­ual, if not quite fem­i­nine in­ner self, and Nell loosens up and kicks ass on the foot­ball field. Will their re­la­tion­ship melt from hate at first sight into teen love by the fi­nal reel? Will there be some moral­is­ing life lessons for them and the au­di­ence along the way? Is the Pope a Catholic?

What saves this movie from ut­ter pre­dictabil­ity and makes it mildly amus­ing is the spir­ited per­for­mance from Zegers, last seen as the son of a trans­sex­ual-in-progress in Transamer­ica, where he may have picked up the tips that have made him so adept at the sub­tle phys­i­cal de­tails he brings to his gen­der-bend­ing role. Mer­ci­fully, the dreaded Sharon Os­bourne, who plays Woody’s mother, is kept off-screen for most of the movie.

Pro­ducer David Fur­nish and his part­ner, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer El­ton John, toss in a few in-jokes, as when Can­dle in the Wind is dis­missed as crap when it comes on a car ra­dio. Michael Dwyer (opens Tues­day)

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