Review: 'He's All That' a Shallow, Soulless Retread

by Padraic Maroney

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 27, 2021

'He's All That'
'He's All That'  (Source:Netflix)

The '90s were a wild time. You could take the still-adorable Rachael Leigh Cook and make her into the most popular girl in school simply by giving her contact lenses and a tweezing her eyebrows. This is quite a feat when you consider that she was going to school with Paul Walker, Usher, Lil Kim, Gabrielle Union, Anna Paquin, and Freddie Prinze, Jr. No, this wasn't real life; this was the classic teen movie, "She's All That."

It's been 20 years, and Cook is returning in a gender-swapped version of the film, aptly titled "He's All That." This time, she is playing the harried mother to Padgett Sawyer, one of the most popular girls in school and on the internet. She's got nearly a million followers and is using the money she earns from endorsements to save for college, but is also harboring a dirty little secret that her life isn't as glamorous as portrayed. (She lives on the wrong side of the tracks.)

While visiting her boyfriend on set of his music video, she is embarrassed while livestreaming and finding him with another girl. For some reason, her fans turn on her, and start leaving in droves. To save her "brand" and lucrative income, she bets that she can turn an outsider into the next prom king. Who hasn't been in a similar situation, right?

It's fitting that the wannabe influencer is played by none other than actual influencer Addison Rae. But whereas the original film had a stacked cast of up-and-coming actors, many who are still around today, acting prowess isn't as important as having a toned body when it comes to getting cast in this incarnation. Rae's stilted line reading zaps any emotional pull that the film might have, as well as keeping her from having any chemistry with her makeover project, played by "Cobra Kai" actor Tanner Buchanan. Along the same lines, the less said about the cameo by Kourtney Kardashian, the better.

By creating a movie that is centered around a character concerned with being an influencer, you run the risk of making the characters unrelatable — especially when you have a cast as inexperienced and incohesive as this one. Everyone seems to be off on their own island, and the only reason the film exists seems to be to make money off the obvious product placements. Even worse, "He's All That" thinks that it is above all of it, and takes itself too seriously. At least in other films that were so blatant about its promotions, it was with a wink and a nod — like in another Cook-led film, "Josie and the Pussycats." Directed by Mark Waters, who helped give us "Mean Girls," you would expect this film to offer some kind of commentary, rather than falling under the spell of the influencer culture.

"He's All That" misses the mark by not acknowledging what was great about its source material — even the iconic dance sequence gets mangled into a weird dance battle. The characters are unlikable, one-dimensional stereotypes. Quite frankly, this movie just isn't all that.

"He's All That" is streaming on Netflix.