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Sorority Boys

The most surprising thing about 2002's Sorority Boys (besides the fact that everyone in the movie actually believes the three main characters are women, of course) is that it's not nearly as bad as it could have been. Yes, it's derivative of several far-superior films — men-in-drag hit its twin zeniths in Some Like It Hot and Tootsie, and nothing's ever lived up to Animal House in the college-raunch department — and it never goes for wit when a sex-toy joke or a boob-shot is in easy reach. But Wally Wolodarsky's cross-dressing comedy still has a certain appeal, largely thanks to the game lead actors, who give their cardboard cut-out parts their all and vamp it up. Barry Watson, Michael Rosenbaum, and Harland Williams play Dave, Adam, and "Doofer," respectively, a trio of members in the ever-so-subtly monikered KOK fraternity at Generic State U. When they're framed for theft and kicked out of the house, the threesome "has" to don wigs and dresses to get back inside KOK and retrieve a videotape that will prove their innocence. One thing leads to another (as such things do in Hollywood), and "Daisy," "Adena," and "Roberta" end up pledging the reviled DOG sorority, the campus's last refuge for unattractive misfits. The president of the DOG house, ultra-feminist Leah (Melissa Sagemiller) — the group's sole pretty face (naturally) — quickly becomes Dave/Daisy's object of affection, which lands him in a quandary over his distaff deception. Watson (a TV heartthrob thanks to the WB's "7th Heaven") is earnestly appealing, but it's Rosenbaum (currently playing baddie Lex Luthor on another WB teen sudser, "Smallville") who's particularly watchable. His Adam/Adena is a Lothario of a ladies' man who can barely contain his rage once he realizes what life is really like for the fairer sex. Meanwhile, Williams (who previously did the drag thing in Mr. Headmistress), gets many of the film's funnier moments as the dazed-and-confused Doofer/Roberta; it's almost worth watching the movie just to hear his Wookiee imitation. Unfortunately, though, Sorority Boys never quite seems to believe in its own message about understanding and empowering women — for every "you go, girl!" moment, there's a soapy shower scene or a wet T-shirt joke. That, plus fitful pacing and a forced, paint-by-numbers plot, make Sorority Boys the kind of movie that might get you to pledge, but will never forge a lifelong sisterhood. Buena Vista's DVD doesn't really make up for lost ground, either; the anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is strong enough, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is more than adequate (English, French, and Spanish subtitles are also available), but the only extras are a muddled, multi-angle behind-the-scenes feature, a "featurette" (2:30) that's really just a montage of the fellas getting dolled up for a photo shoot, and preview trailers. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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