He’s All That
Director: Mark Waters
Writer: R. Lee Fleming Jr.
Remake of/Sequel to: She’s All That
Cast: Addison Rae, Tanner Buchanan, Madison Pettis, Rachael Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard, Peyton Meyer, Isabella Crovetti, Annie Jacob, Myra Molloy, Kourtney Kardashian, Vanessa Dubasso, Romel De Silva, Heather Ann Gottlieb
Seen on: 9.10.2021
Padgett (Addison Rae) is a popular influencer with her make-over videos that give her some additional income as she goes through high school. But after her very messy break-up is not only caught on camera, but streamed live to her entier following, Padgett has to prove that she still got it, so she won’t lose her sponsor (Kourtney Kardashian). When her best friend Alden (Madison Pettis) suggests a bet, Padgett takes it: she is sure that she can make the school dork over into the prom king. The dork in question is Cameron (Tanner Buchanan), who is abrasive, cynical and not in the least interested in popularity. But Padgett doesn’t give up easily.
He’s All That is okay in much the same way that She’s All That is: neither of the two films are exactly great, both are a little too formulaic but with clever flourishes. Still, it won’t be a film that I’ll be revisiting, I think.
The most interesting thing about He’s All That for me was watching it basically back to back with She’s All That and compare the two. What struck me in that comparison is how much harder the film has to work to make Padgett likeable compared to Freddie Prinze Jr.’s Zack. Zack is popular, handsome, smart and rich, and his humiliation that leads him to accept the bet is much smaller, and apparently over in a moment.
Meanwhile Padgett may be popular, smart and beautiful, but she’s definitely not rich. And her humiliation isn’t just uncomfortable, it is seen by hundred thousands and shared widely, and it has very serious financial ramifications for her. In short, the film makes sure that Padgett is made very small, and my theory is that if Padgett had been as self-confident as Zack, and as little fazed, the audience wouldn’t have liked her much because (internalized) misogyny is one hell of a drug.
That this is my take-away from the film probably tells you a lot about how emotionally invested I was in the story. I’m all here for a good, tropey romance where you know basically all the important stops until the HEA, but it felt empty here for the most part. This might have something to do with the fact that Buchanan looks like a Hollywood version of Sebastian Kurz, and that is basically the oppposite of romance material. Also, Cameron’s distaste for the world of popularity feels a lot more like a superiority complex than Laney’s in the original did, and the social media criticism feels a little flat.
The movie does have nice moments. The allusions to She’s All That were nice and inobtrusive (casting Cook and Lillard, including a cover of Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kiss Me” at a good moment). I really enjoyed Padgett’s relationship with her mother (Rachael Leigh Cook), and I liked Cameron’s little sister Brin (Isabella Crovetti).
Overall, I’d say that this remake is just as good as the original, it’s just that the original isn’t particularly great either and that this would have been a chance to improve some things that the remake simply misses.