Sydney White presses a lot of ingratiating buttons. It's a good-hearted fish-out-of-water comedy about a girl who refuses to simply go along with the popular flow, it stars an appealing and talented young actress in Amanda Bynes, it gives the usual targets of Hollywood's mean-spirited humor the chance to display a little dignity, and it champions a definition of nonconformity that stretches from cross-dressers to ROTC candidates.
The result is a charmer that boldly marches where lesser movies - at least since the heyday of John Hughes - fear to tread. It's neither earth-shattering nor cutting edge, and much of the humor seems strained. But in a comedic environment where crude and crass have become the bywords, it's refreshingly retro to find a film that stoops to neither.
Sydney White (Universal Pictures) Starring Amanda Bynes, Sara Paxton, Matt Long. Directed by Joe Nussbaum. Rated PG-13. Time 108 minutes.