A Look Back: Sorority Boys

As Shakespeare knew, drag makes people do funny things. Hollywood movies know this, too and take full advantage, whether it’s sticking tampons up your nose (“She’s the Man”) or playing air vacuum (“Mrs. Doubtfire”). Attempting to pass oneself off as something you are not can be a high wire act. What happens if you’re caught unawares, especially speaking in your own voice? How far should you let your new friend go in believing you are just like them – especially when you yourself are developing feelings for them? Always while watching someone masquerade as the other gender is the overhanging question of how successfully they are pulling it off. Luckily, most movie characters do not have sky high IQs, so it is possible in that universe for someone to spend a great deal of time with another person, even in various situations of undress, and that person will remain clueless. It is also possible for a bright young daughter, who is extremely close to her father, not to figure out he’s her new housekeeper/babysitter (“Mrs. Doubtfire”) for a good portion of the movie. At least in Hollywood.

In “Sorority Boys,” every character has an IQ roughly the equivalent of mayonnaise, which is great news for our three “heroes,” played by Barry Watson, Michael Rosenbaum and Harland Williams because they are three of the least convincing females you will probably ever see on the big screen. “Sorority Boys” is basically “Revenge of the Nerds,” if the nerds chose to take refuge in a sorority by passing themselves off as college age women. The three main characters are unfortunate enough to get kicked out of their fraternity for allegedly mishandling funds, and so they promptly join a sorority and yes, I know. But! No one is the wiser. No one even suspects just a teensy weensy bit why these three guys/girls are acting so oddly. On the contrary, it works like a charm. Apparently, the university is run by idiots, as well. Ditto the guys’ frat brothers, one of whom (I swear) falls for their own former friend in drag. Ditto one of the character’s fathers – yes, that is one awkward scene. There is also a plot of sorts, revolving around the three guys’ quest to find out what really happened to their frat funds, and their new sorority sisters’ challenge of winning a kind of campus sorority competition (revolving around a powder puff football game – this is when our heroes really start to shine). Eventually, the three guys are vindicated, the bad guys get what’s coming to them, and all the gender politics get ironed out.

This is the kind of movie that you should watch only if all your other options have been exhausted. One critic said “Sorority Boys” would be invaluable only if any of the three leads went on to fame and fortune, and they could use it for clips at a roast. I’m not sure that happened, but I’m pretty sure the movie didn’t cause any lasting damage to their careers either. It’s amusing in places, and there are a few unexpectedly sharp points made about gender relations, but ultimately, it won’t stay with you.


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