The “He’s All That” remake is missing out on a second chance



I don’t know if this is an unpopular opinion, but I dislike the 1999’s “She’s All That.” This fact makes it unsurprising that the 2021 remake, “He’s All That,” starring Addison Rae, was not impressive in any aspect of its production. It’s somehow even worse than its 90’s counterpart.

I can’t talk about “He’s All That” without explaining why the original was a bad movie, albeit fun and entertaining. The plot involves a popular boy making a bet that he can make the “dorky, ugly girl” (which is absurd, as she’s played by literal supermodel Rachael Leigh Cook) into the prom queen. Literally no one is surprised when the guy falls for the girl, and she was beautiful the entire time behind her glasses. 

The thing I dislike most about the plot is that the extent of the character arc for the female protagonist, Laney, is that she doesn’t get raped and is able to paint her dead mom for art class. Meanwhile the male protagonist, Zach, gets a whole storyline about coming to terms with his relationship with his dad and what he wants to do with his life. Laney doesn’t get to grow as a person, she only serves as the catalyst for Zach’s character development. 

“He’s All That” follows almost the exact same formula, except the roles are gender-swapped and it’s set in a “modern” atmosphere. This means that Addison Rae, who plays the “Zach” character, is TikTok-famous and sponsored by Kourtney Kardashian. Rae plays internet star Padgett Sawyer, a financially struggling high school student who uses the sponsorship money from her fame as a “makeover expert” to save up for college. When her boyfriend cheats on her and she goes viral (in a bad way), she has to redeem herself to her sponsor, which she does by accepting a bet from her friend that she can turn the school’s loser into the next prom king. 

There are almost no redeeming qualities about this movie. The cinematography reads like a bad E-Network show, the screenwriting is cliche and unoriginal, and Addison Rae’s acting performance is unsurprisingly atrocious. The attempts by the writers to make the story relatable to teenagers are just distracting from the plot and age the story dramatically. I predict this movie will be barely watchable in three years because of how unrelatable and dated it will feel to kids of the future. The original film, while it did feature recognizable 90’s style and slang, didn’t force the time period onto the story, which is why it can still be enjoyed by audiences 30 years later.

Throughout the movie I was almost impressed by the unlikeability of the two main characters, and how out of place they seem in the context of the story. I did like how they establish that Cameron (the Laney character) acts pretentious at the beginning because of the death of his mother, and how his “makeover” actually brings him back to how he was before she died. 

Another thing I noticed was the absurd amount of unapologetic ad placement. The little sister scrolls on the Old Navy website, and the main characters left Core water bottles on the lunch table when they left. Again, it dates the entire production to when these brands were popular and makes the producers look desperate for any advertisement money possible.

However, there were some things I liked about this movie. The characters of Nisha and Quinn are surprisingly well written, and their relationship felt more natural than Padgett and Cameron. Their romance doesn’t feel written to cater to the audience or fetishized, and it’s rare to see lesbian relationships portrayed in such a positive manner in teen movies. 

The only good acting in the entire movie besides the ones from Quinn, Nisha and the two actors who were in the original movie, Rachael Leigh Cook and Matthew Lillard, was from Cameron’s younger sister, played by Isabella Corvetti, when she confides in her brother about how much she misses the old him. However, the writers had already completely messed up her character by that point when they gave her the unfortunate line calling her brother “hot.” This line was both completely uncomfortable and unnecessary, for obvious reasons. 

One of the worst scenes in the entire movie is at the end at the prom where the two prom queen nominees have a dance off, and most of the shots are just Addison Rae flaunting her TikTok dances. The directors clearly tried to make another modern spin on the endearingly cute dance number at the 90’s prom, but all the dance scenes come off as strange instead of charming.

Anything that was remotely good in the 90’s version was completely squandered in the remake, from the soundtrack to the costume design. The saddest part is that it could have corrected the controversial choices of the original and worked from that, but it falls into the same mistakes as it did 30 years ago, plus a couple extra. What a waste of a 20 million dollar budget.