He’s All That

Written by Maria Athayde


I’m a 90s kids and some of the vivid memories I have growing up in that era are associated with watching cheesy rom-coms like Clueless (1995), Can’t Hardly Wait (1998), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Drive Me Crazy (1999) and, especially She’s All That (1999). So when I heard that a re-imagining of She’s All That, this time around, called He’s All That (2021) was coming out I wanted to give it a shot. After watching this I can say I was wayyyy too optimistic about its prospects.      

He’s All That is nothing more than a light reimagining of the 1999 version for Generation Z. The casual misogyny, fat-shaming, predatory jokes, and hetero-normativity that were in the original are gone in this version but the story remains very much the same. This movie sees a popular kid Padgett Sawyer, played by Tik-Tok star Addison Rae, accept a bet where she can transform “ugly duckling” Cameron Kweller, played by Tanner Buchanan, into prom king only to find herself and fall for him in the process. The essence of the movie is truly that simple and I am sure you can imagine how it plays out from here.

The movie adds elements that are familiar to Gen Z like making the protagonist an influencer with brand deals on the line. It also overstates that all of its characters are “social media obsessed”. Some of my primary gripes with this version were how little the supporting cast particularly Rachael Leigh Cook (the protagonist in the original) was used. Why not make her the same character as in the original?  Maybe add a bit of depth to the story? Another squandered opportunity was not having Kourtney Kardashian play herself. Having Kourtney play herself would not only have made the movie more meta but it would also have made it exponentially funnier. If you are familiar with the Kardashian’s even if it’s just a little bit you likely know just how funny Kourtney can be. 

Going into this I knew I wasn’t going to get a masterpiece, good cinematography, writing, or Oscar worthy performances. I went into this expecting some dumb fun but ended up just having a bad time. One thing is certain there is an ingenuity to Gen Z and people like Addison Rae who can turn an online career into something much bigger and bring her built in fan base to movies like this one. 

Next time, don’t get a 51 year old man, the same writer from the original, to reimagine practically the same movie 22 years later. Instead, try going for someone who is a little more in tune with the new wave of movie goers or in this case streamers. In the end, everything about He’s All That rings hollow.

He’s All That Trailer

He’s All That is currently streaming on Netflix.

You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on LetterboxdTwitter, or Instagram and view more of what she’s up to here.

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