He’s All That

Millennials 1, Gen Z 0

REVIEWED BY Ashwini Vethakan

While many millennials around the world vehemently protest against Hollywood’s A-list directors for trying and failing miserably to remake our favourite classics, the big question many of us would like an answer to is why fix what isn’t broken?

This is what we mumbled to ourselves when the end credits rolled in Mark Walter’s spin-off of the 1990s classic She’s All That.

In the 2021 rendition, we’re treated to a twist just as the title of the movie suggests: the female protagonist places a bet with her friends on whether she can turn the next lacklustre kid in her school into an Instagram drool worthy boyfriend.

While its predecessor was set in the late ’90s – featuring a jock who gets dumped only a month away from the school prom, who then takes up a bet to change a geek into the next prom queen in order to regain his reputation – the stakes are a lot higher this year.

For teen beauty influencer Padgett (played by TikTok superstar Addison Rae), popularity literally pays the bills. So when she’s humiliated by her boyfriend during a livestream event, she decides to transform the grumpy hipster Cameron (Tanner Buchanan) into a prom king in a bid to win back her followers and brand endorsements.

It’s a strong premise in today’s world that illustrates how times have changed but a pity that He’s All That makes such little use of it. Save for the smartphones, the characters wield like weapons, and the movie carries very little substance or even romance for that matter.

We don’t want to pick apart the film and tell you why the remake seems like a hasty assemble; but we will say that its lead characters never quite live up to Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook.

Rae – who is making her acting debut – simply doesn’t have the proper cues for the camera. Her acting, according to the Hollywood Reporter, “could be best described as emerging.” She smiles way too much than needed especially during moments that call for a level of pathos.

Although he was able to show us his Cobra Kai moves, Buchanan struggles between playing the broody emo and the love struck boy. Together, the chemistry is weak and the audience simply can’t quite tell if they have any feelings for each other.

With a storyline that could have been moulded to convey a strong message to its very young audience about the dangers and realities of social media, we find a shallow movie instead. 

Neither a bland nor an innovative retelling, the remake falls somewhere in-between, suffering greatly by not establishing a more distinctive identity. This is shocking since it’s written by R. Lee Fleming Jr. who wrote the original She’s All That.

Could we chalk it up to him not properly understanding this new generation or simply wanting to avoid the underlying theme?

That said, there are a few nods to the original story that millennials would appreciate, such as having Cook cameo as Padgett’s mother while the delightful Matthew Lillard appears as the high school’s principal. There’s also that final prom song that winds down the movie – Sixpence None the Richer’s hit Kiss Me.

To be honest, Lillard is one of the few highlights of the film. Cook could be; but she’s given next to nothing to do. Neither of their characters in He’s All That relate to those in the previous film.

All things considered, if you need a movie to pass the time and aren’t too picky with what’s online right now, this just might do the trick.

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