Recently added to Netflix is the romantic teen comedy, He’s All That. The movie – directed by Mark Waters – stars Addison Rae, Tanner Buchanan, Matthew Lillard, and Rachael Leigh Cook, and tells the story of a high school girl who falls in love with a fellow student after she gives him a makeover.
In the movie, Padgett Sawyer is a student and influencer. Padgett is popular at school, has thousands of social media followers, and even though she comes from a less-than wealthy background, she receives a very good income from her online work.
But one day, while getting ready to surprise her boyfriend with a romantic gesture at school, Padgett discovers he has been cheating on her. The break-up takes place during a live stream, with the footage capturing the emotional incident – tears and all.
The next day, Padgett discovers the footage has been turned into a meme and she has become a laughing stock. Not only does this cause her further upset, but due to all of the negativity she loses a lucrative social media contract, which puts her future college fund at risk.
Keen to turn her fortunes around, Padgett sets out to demonstrate she’s still got what it takes to be popular. She believes that if she can transform a fellow student (preferably a nerdy one) into a prom king, she will be able to attract followers and regain her contract.
The subject of the makeover is Cameron Kweller – an anti-social student with an interest in photography. Cameron is a fairly quiet guy who largely flies under the radar at school, making him the perfect candidate for Padgett.
But what starts out as a project to gain online attention soon develops into something more, as Padgett begins to fall in love with Cameron and vice versa. However, will Cameron still feel the same way about Padgett when he learns the truth about the makeover?
If the title or the premise of He’s All That sounds very familiar, it should do – this movie is a remake of the 1999 teen comedy, She’s All That. Both films follow a similar plot, but if you remember the original movie then you will know that it focused on a guy giving a girl a makeover, rather than the other way around.
She’s All That was a pretty popular movie back in the day, but it wasn’t a movie for me. In fact, I only watched it recently, and I wasn’t a fan.
My biggest problem with the original movie was the idea the main character needed a makeover. This seemed bizarre to me, as the actress in the original film – Rachael Leigh Cook – was good-looking before the makeover and was equally as good-looking post ‘upgrade’.
With He’s All That following a similar format to the original, this means the film suffers the same issue. The actor getting spruced up this time around is Tanner Buchanan, and guess what? Either side of the makeover he’s an attractive actor.
This whole makeover plotline is a load of rubbish and doesn’t hold up to any kind of scrutiny. But it’s the central concept of both movies, and it simply isn’t going away regardless of how I feel about it.
So, while I don’t think an unwarranted makeover is the best idea to peg your movie on, I have made with peace with it as that is what this movie is about. Now that said, heading into He’s All That I still expected to really dislike this movie.
Not being a fan of the original, I figured this remake would bore me rigid and be filled with further problems that I simply couldn’t get past. But here’s the thing, I didn’t dislike He’s All That.
I found this movie to be entertaining for what it is, with likeable leads, a decent soundtrack, and enough (mildly) amusing lines of dialogue to keep things going. OK, so that may not sound like the best endorsement, but remember I am not a fan of the original and I’m not even the target audience of this particular picture, so this is pretty good praise.
This film is made for teenagers and sadly for me that shipped sailed long ago, but yeah, I kind of liked this movie. Believe me, I am more surprised than anyone to be typing out these words, but it’s true. He’s All That is a complete re-tread of She’s All That, but I found myself enjoying it.
He’s All That has clearly been made on a small budget, so it does look like a straight-to-streaming picture, rather than something with a little sheen and polish. But overlooking the limitations of its budget, it’s fun, frothy, and perfectly pitched to modern teens.
This is a movie made for the TikTok generation and while this isn’t me, I can see who will find enjoyment with it. There are discussions, themes, and characters in this movie which will appeal to the right audience, and the use of onscreen text graphics and references to influencers will also hit the right target demographic.
Does this mean this film can only appeal to teens? No, because regardless of the ‘youth’ content, the film is still built around a romantic storyline and this is something which has universal appeal.
The romance between Padgett and Cameron is well balanced and likeable. Sure, it plays out exactly as you might imagine, but the journey is fun to watch, and the two characters have chemistry.
Relatable content can also be found in the school setting (most of us oldies went to school, right?), and through the humour. Plus, Rachael Leigh Cook and Matthew Lillard (stars from the original film), pop up in minor roles in this remake as a nice throwback.
What struck me most while watching He’s All That is that despite the generational gap, this film felt very much like a teen flick from the ‘90s. It features a collection of cheery pop songs, it is loaded with references that feel in keeping with the times, and everything about it is upbeat and positive.
And perhaps that last point is why I liked this movie as much as I did. I like upbeat and positive.
He’s All That feels very much like the sort of film you watch when you want something to make you feel happy. It won’t throw any curveballs at you, it simply does exactly what it says on the tin.
For teens, this is the perfect sleepover movie, while for adults it offers a call back to a simpler time. A time before bills, COVID, or chronic back pain took over your life.
Will this movie win any awards? Nope, but it will win over some naysayers.
He’s All That is a perfectly fine teen picture that works better than expected. It’s certainly not amazing, it is a bit cheap, and it won’t appeal to everyone, but teens should find plenty to like here.
If you don’t believe this movie is for you, then you’re probably correct in your assumption and that’s fine – just move along, there’s plenty of other movies you could be watching. But if you want some light-hearted escapism, with a satisfying ending and a plot you really don’t have to think about, you will find all of this in He’s All That.
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