He’s All That (2021)
Director: Mark Waters
Cast: Addison Rae, Tanner Buchanan, Madison Pettis, Rachel Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard, Peyton Meyer, Isabella Crovetti, Annie Jacob, Myra Molloy
A teenage girl sets out to give a nebbish classmate the ultimate high school makeover. An updated remake of the 1999 film, ‘She’s All That’. – IMDB
Its been 22 years since She’s All That, He’s All That is a remake which uses the same premise as its 1999 counterpart but with flipped female and male character roles set in our current social media modern world where the girl takes on a bet to makeover a guy instead of the original where the popular guy makes over a geeky girl because of a bet to turn her into the prom queen. It definitely feels like making movies where its the same premise, swapping roles or modernizing it feels really redundant. In fact, it shows a lack of creativity for something new. Sad to say that He’s All That is pretty much exactly that. Of course, that’s coming from myself who only did see She’s All That (review) about a decade ago for the first time for this blog in its early days well past my high school days when the film was released and probably would have been more impactful and just ended up falling a tad flat overall. So, He’s All That being released felt like it was banking on a lot of nostalgia which I also didn’t have. Of course, that’s all on a rather subjective level but looking at it on a more objective level as a standalone film, it also doesn’t hold up too well.
Teen romantic comedy films have had its hit and misses over the years. Much like romantic comedy films, its based a lot on the chemistry and the characters itself. Right off the bat, it feels like there’s a lot of very unnatural and lack of chemistry between the two leads, Addison Rae and Tanner Buchanan playing respectively, Padgett and Cameron. The two characters aren’t badly written as they do fit into the current social media landscape as it makes Padgett out as a middle class single mom family trying to pretend that she is part of an upper class family to fit into her school while also being a successful influencer which shares lifestyle tips and other advices where right off the bat, it all is a bit staged, making her life especially the popularity she built feels rather fake. There’s something really over the top with this character that its a little unbearable at times however the script that give her some more real moments when she interacts with Cameron, a photography-obsessed, against the current outcast of the school life with essentially one best friend who dreams for high school to end so that he can go travel the world. The two together is the typical opposite attracts sort of story. In reality, Cameron is a pretty decently written character and well acted for the most part individually. The moments where Cameron and Padgett just feels too rushed and disjointed to actually feel like these two have the chemistry together.
For the teen high school elements of the film, it does reflect it well enough especially when the current social media heavy world is a big part of it as Padgett’s life is upholding her influencer status. Of course, a part of it is her trying to keep it so that she can build up her college fund and help out her family which makes her character likable. How high school changed with the help of social media community is also well-portrayed. In some ways, it also reflects that whether in the past or the present, the high school dynamic doesn’t change too much. Obviously, I’m not in high school anymore so I’m not exactly the person to talk about how high school environment is right now but it does feel like other than bad news spreading even faster through the help of social media and technology advancement, its rather the same. But then, the high school dynamic is centered on the people in it: fake friends, betrayal, people trying to get prom king and queen, the shallowness of teenagers, exes and of course, the best people being the characters’ friends or sibling which adds positivity in the low times. The better moments of the film truly revolve around the other characters interaction rather than focusing on Cameron and Padgett as their storyline is just done to death over the many years of teen rom-coms.
Being a film that banks on nostalgia, they also bring in some characters played by the original cast. The most notable being Rachel Leigh Cook as Padgett’s mother and Matthew Lillard as the principal. These two characters are pretty decent supporting characters and probably add the most point to the film. Its not from a nostalgia element for myself but would for fans of She’s All That but they also have some fun characters. They add some color to this film overall even if they don’t have a big role overall. Much like there’s some fun makeover montage moments of trying out clothes with the crew that was pretty fun right down to a dance battle sequence during prom night that felt out of place but still okay.
Overall, He’s All That is a pretty forgettable experience. Its not quite as good as the first film. The acting is not particularly good. It lacks chemistry between the main leads. While its not a complete destruction, there’s a lot of issues with the script and dialogue (or maybe I’m just not in with the young crowd which is highly probably). Addison Rae is a huge part of the story as she is the main focal point and the film is from her point of view and yet she doesn’t seem to be able to hold up the film enough even if some of the other side characters are rather entertaining to watch. As a final note, movies likes this really feel like its unnecessary as the resources could be in making more original stories rather than just rehashing and that bothers more than the film not being good as I didn’t really have high expectations in the first place.