Re-Watch: She’s All That (1999)

She’s All That
Director: Robert Iscove
Writer: R. Lee Fleming Jr.
Cast: Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard, Paul Walker, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Kevin Pollak, Anna Paquin, Kieran Culkin, Elden Henson, Usher, Lil’ Kim, Gabrielle Union, Dulé Hill, Tamara Mello, Clea DuVall, Tim Matheson
Seen on: 8.10.2021

Zack (Freddy Prinze Jr.) is the star of his high school. He is gorgeous, athletic and rich, he has a beautiful girlfriend in Taylor (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe). He should be set to finish High School on a high as prom king with Taylor as prom queen at his side. But when school starts, he is unceremoniously dumped by her for reality TV star Brock Hudson (Matthew Lillard). Zack’s best friend Dean (Paul Walker) is ready to pour salt into Zack’s wound, so in an effort to reassert himself, Zack agrees to a bet with Dean: He can take any girl in school and make her prom queen. Dean chooses Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) for the challenge: disheveled, outspoken and artistic, she seems like the perfect challenge for Zack. But as Zack starts to woo her, and Laney slowly gives into his wooing, he soon finds that there is more to her than just a bet.

I know that I saw She’s All That at some point, but I’ve only had a vague recollection of it. Unfortunately, re-watching it didn’t prove it to be some kind of 90s high school romance winner, but rather a pretty lackluster affair.

The film poster showing Zack (Freddy Prinze Jr.) and Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) smiling.

I don’t know if She’s All That spawned the remake trope where the person being remade is simply wearing glasses, has her hair up and a non-mainstream wardrobe, but is otherwise conventionally superpretty. But it is certainly the most prominent incarnation of that trope, and I was very aware of that going into the film. That doesn’t really make it any less ridiculous though I mean, just look at Cook.

Anyhow, the film’s much bigger issue is that the chemistry between Zack and Laney is pretty much non-existent. They fall for each other because the movie plot says so and because we expect them to. But it never really gets emotional. You never feel their love. And that’s practically a death sentence for a RomCom.

Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) in art class.

There are some nice touches here and there. Matthew Lillard brings a lot of fun, though his character does start to grate a little. I honestly didn’t remember that Clea DuVall was in this, and even though her appearance is short and her character isn’t great, I always love seeing her. (There are also around 5 seconds of Milo Ventimiglia.) The film also touches on classism a little, and almost becomes actually interesting there.

But overall, it’s a film that is as stale as the idea that an artistic, political girl is somehow hard to love or unpopular. It’s probably best kept in the 90s altogether (which is why I watched the re-make, of course, with a bit of morbid curiosity).

Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) and Zack (Freddy Prinze Jr.) at the beach.

Summarizing: meh.

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