Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article about the movie “He’s All That” belong to the author, and do not represent the views of DU Express as a whole.
Nobody loves a good rom-com more than me; the cheesy dialogues, the awkward acting, the over-the-top breakup and makeup scenes just call to me. And yes, I have got my fair share of judgment from people when I tell them that it is my favourite genre. And no, it’s not because I want my own knight in shining armour. I like the genre because these movies are so far fetched from reality that it’s just extremely fun to watch. So when Netflix planned to recreate the ’90s hit She’s All That with a gender swap, I thought it would be a movie for the ages. But, He’s All That tries its best.
The Original: She’s All That
This movie revolves around Zach, the high school jock. After being dumped by his girlfriend before prom, he makes a bet with his friends. The bet entails him to find the “biggest loser” in school and remake her into that year’s prom queen. And surprise surprise, over the course of the film, Zach falls for the ‘geeky’ girl Laney. I mean, it sounds like every other “bet” film ever, but it did so well in the box office at the time. It remains funny and weird in all the right ways. And it even has the stupid trope that follows that when you remove your glasses, you automatically become beautiful. Although this trope is problematic and just generally untrue, its use in that decade helped make the movie a fan favourite.
What’s Up With He’s All That?
The remake largely follows the path of the original except that Zach is now Padgett and Laney is now Cameron. Besides swapping the gender of the film’s attractive and geek characters, the story comes up to speed with social media. Padgett is a social media influencer, who gets her life and sponsorship trashed when she live-streams her boyfriend cheating on her with another woman. But obviously, like any rational person, she makes a bet to find a geek (in this case, Cameron) and remake him into the next prom king. Cameron, by the way, is only seen as nerdy in the storyline because- one, he doesn’t have social media (and that’s “uncool”) and two, he wears a beanie in California in blistering heat.
“He’s All That” tries very hard to portray Cameron (played by Taylor Buchanan) as ugly but it just doesn’t work out. Cameron, the guy is supposedly a nerd by stereotypical definition (and definitely not your average jock) has eight-pack abs. Good job Netflix, you almost had me!
Addison Rae as Padgett was a great decision. Why, you ask? Because we all know that TikTok dancers have award-winning acting skills. Yes, that was sarcasm.
Rae holds none of the screen attention, and it’s borderline embarrassing to watch her struggle with fundamental emotional expressions.
And let’s not forget the almost shameful product placement. The presence and attention directed towards KFC and Pizza Hut in most scenes make viewers confused about whether it is a movie or a low-key advertisement. Pair that with the cast boasting unattainable body standards; and you have a recipe for an unbelievable mess.
Do I think this movie is bad? No. It’s fine- just like any other teenage drama Netflix has put out this year. It’s good for a one-time watch. But it is not going to be a cult classic like its predecessor.
What makes me mad is the ending; or better yet, the slow descent of a good genre into the dump because studios can’t figure out what teenagers like anymore. The reason the movies from the ’90s and early 2000s still hold up is because they were uncomplicated and quirky in a fun way. And we simply just need more of that.
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