He’s All That is a hollow Gen Z recreation of She’s All That, lacking in charm and seemingly engineered as a vehicle to promote its stars’ other work.
Based on the 1964 movie My Fair Lady – which is itself based on the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion – She’s All That adapted the story for modern audiences when it released in 1999, and the new remake He’s All That seeks to do the same thing. Though it has since become a classic 90s teen rom-com, She’s All That wasn’t initially very well-received and undoubtedly has its flaws even as many Millennials still hold it in high regard. But while He’s All That at times seeks to tap into the nostalgia for the original 90s movie, it also sets out to be its own thing, with a whole new generation of stars and problems. He’s All That is a hollow Gen Z recreation of She’s All That, lacking in charm and seemingly engineered as a vehicle to promote its stars’ other work.
The movie follows teenager Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae), who works as an influencer to save up for college and help her mom (Rachael Leigh Cook) with bills. However, she sees her follower count drop drastically and her sponsorship pulled after she has a very public breakup with her boyfriend Jordan (Peyton Meyer) on live streaming. Seeking to regain her followers and sponsorship deal, Padgett makes a bet with her friend Alden (Madison Pettis) to turn the unpopular boy Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan) into prom king. As Padgett and Cameron grow closer, what started out as nothing more than a bet develops into something real.
Directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls) from a script by She’s All That screenwriter R. Lee Fleming Jr., He’s All That attempts to recreate the magic of its 90s predecessor but with a new twist that gender-swaps the lead roles. This twist works fine even if it doesn’t necessarily feel new or original given the number of female-led reboots Hollywood has done in the last decade. Similarly, the movie’s attempt to modernize the story by making its star an influencer and casting a TikTok personality is neither ingenious nor clever, but rather a slapdash attempt at appealing to teenagers that comes across as more insultingly shallow than anything else. There are some mind-bogglingly bad story decisions, like when an attempted sexual assault takes place off screen and is simply used as the impetus for Cameron and Jordan to fight, and then is completely forgotten about. Altogether the movie is a dull and confounding mess seemingly packaged for Gen Z to gobble up, but He’s All That is nowhere near being charming or funny – or even so-bad-it’s-good – enough to appeal to anyone.
Not helping the movie’s case is Rae’s wooden performance as Padgett. While she excels in the moments when Padgett is meant to be portraying a likable influencer, Rae struggles to connect in any other kind of scene, whether it’s serious or comedic. Buchanan is somewhat better, though the wig they put him in for his “unlikable” moments is laughable and his best scene is the fight with Meyer’s Jordan when he gets to show off his Cobra Kai skills. All told, their inclusion in He’s All That feels more like a commercial for their other work surrounded by a haphazardly constructed and poorly executed teen rom-com. The only real bright spots of He’s All That are Cook, who plays Padgett’s hard-working mom Anna, and fellow returning She’s All That star Matthew Lillard, who’s a scene stealer as the beleaguered high school principal and who has some of the funniest moments of the movie.
Ultimately, He’s All That feels like a soulless cash grab to remake a kind-of-classic movie, but instead of working to improve where She’s All That stumbled – which it did at times – Fleming Jr. and Waters slapped on some TikTok sheen. This is especially apparent in the moments when He’s All That attempts to recreate or reference the 90s movie, as in a dance-off scene at the prom, which has awfully little energy and even less charm. (It also works to prove that being a mildly successful dancer on TikTok may not necessarily translate to real world dance skills.) But while these nods to the original are few and far between, there’s very little He’s All That brings to the table on its own aside from shallow ideas and scenes that look like they were shot in portrait mode on an iPhone.
As such, He’s All That is far from a worthwhile watch for most, aside from Rae’s fans if they’re curious about the TikTok star’s attempt at acting. It may be worth a viewing for folks wanting to watch a new movie on streaming, but with all the services now available and a plethora of content, there’s undoubtedly something more fun or entertaining (or downright watchable) than He’s All That. While a remake of She’s All That perhaps had some potential, He’s All That squanders every bit of it and, as a result, becomes a mediocre remake of an adaptation of an adaptation.
Next: He’s All That Movie Trailer
He’s All That is now streaming on Netflix. It is 88 minutes long and is rated TV-MA.
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- He’s All That (2021)Release date: Aug 27, 2021
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