“What’s the point to remaking She’s All That?” is a question that frequented my thoughts when I first heard of He’s All That. It was another random project that seemed as if it was putting all of its eggs in one basket, hoping to simply capture the attention of movie goers with the idea of swapping the gender roles of its predecessor. Other than looking to be entertained, I was hoping most of all that He’s All That could prove to me why it should exist. Thankfully, He’s All That did just that.
As expected, He’s All That uses the same structure and formula from the 1999 teen flick hit. However, She’s All That was a story that took place within the vacuum of high school. With the 2021 remake, screenwriter R. Lee Fleming Jr. (the original screenwriter of She’s All That) expands the narrative to a more fitting scope and adapts it to the online craze of influencer culture. This updated perspective brings in the scrutiny of going viral for the wrong reasons, which intensifies the level of judgemental attitudes reflected on those who relish in the spotlight and must maintain their reputation. Fleming Jr. may be working with a bubbly template, but he puts in the effort to make this story as identifiable to contemporary teens as the earlier film was to another generation.
However, He’s All That fails in terms of a nostalgic connection for fans of the original. She’s All That co-stars Rachael Leigh Cook and Matthew Lillard make fleeting appearances in the remake, but they play different characters. Both actors make the best of their screen time (Lillard is actually really funny as an awkward principal), but their inclusion isn’t developed past their attendance. A qualm that would’ve, perhaps, been forgiven if their roles were interesting. Instead of cashing in on the casting by adding subtle jokes or continuing the original story in a minor way, they’re only present to remind us that they were in the original.
While the film may be disappointing to those who found She’s All That endearing, newcomers are none the wiser considering that audience is the demographic for He’s All That. A point proven further by its rising star Addison Rae, who shot to fame by being a popular online personality and is now headlining a movie parading a reflective message about why being “internet famous” may not be the most ideal quality for individuality. This is an interesting vehicle for Rae as she walks a dicey line that risks contradicting her career outside of the movie. While this angle may be a little too on the nose, Rae shows the necessary interest to meet the film at its surprising level of sincerity.
The film’s dialogue is certainly cheesy, as well as some ludicrous product placement and serious moments that can’t help but be unintentionally funny. It’s also important to note that He’s All That is brutally edited with clunky transitions that could’ve been fixed had the production paid more attention to the film’s flow. But, He’s All That had enough convincing heart and honesty for me to recommend this to teens who are looking for an easy-breezy guilty pleasure.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie