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
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)