WarningMight contain spoilers.

This is a great film that mostly retains its charm, full to the brim with humour that makes you wince slightly and laugh uproariously. The displeasing elements are primarily confined to a few characters. To wit: Eunice is a walking punchline, although at least Toby feels safe enough to confess his feelings for her by the end; Monique, whom we know nothing about, is treated like a minor villain for the crime of arrogance; and, 20 years later, it’s easier to see Malcolm—who has pillows with Olivia’s face on them—as an incel in the making.

With the formalities out of the way… one might say Channing Tatum was born to play two roles: Tyler in Step Up and Duke here. You couldn’t ask for more perfect casting: he’s incredibly talented yet believable. No wonder Amanda Bynes pushed for him to get the role:

When holding auditions for the role of Duke, Amanda Bynes fought for the producers to choose Channing Tatum, who at the time had never had a leading film role and was largely unknown in Hollywood. Producers also were concerned that he was significantly older than most of his costars. Tatum credits Bynes with helping him launch his career as an actor.

Bynes herself isn’t outstanding in the same way, but I think that becomes part of the appeal of the story. Her ridiculous accent and her attempts to appear masculine had me gasping for breath. It’s completely understandable that she had a crush on Tatum during filming.

David Cross steals all of his scenes as the suspiciously sympathetic Dean, especially with the immortal lines, Have you ever tried to run away in high heels, Malcolm? Not so easy…. Paul is a good best friend, and the way he says Kia, don’t look without turning his head when Monique tries to distract them made me guffaw. No one knows why Vinnie Jones is coaching this team or why he dresses like that, but no one can deny it feels right, just as it does for the Cornwall team’s coach to be so out of place, or that it feels right for Olivia to (evidently) only be in love with the name Sebastian, happily transferring her feelings for Viola to him in the end.

Kissing booths have always seemed like an uncomfortable concept to me, which is reinforced here. They’re unhygienic and unsafe, too. And speaking of discomfort, Viola holds up her top (to prove to everyone that she’s a woman) for an unnecessarily long time. She also really does start fights everywhere she goes, and even though this isn’t a violent film, the brutal sound effects are slightly jarring. The soundtrack is terrible; it’s as if someone searched for ‘popular pop-rock songs’ and used the list to mechanically fill in the blanks.