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He’s All That: A Nostalgic Catfish.

Updated: Sep 5, 2021

I (reluctantly) watched the new “She’s All That” adaptation- a gender-swap of the nostalgic 90s film, starring TikTok famous Addison Rae as the lead. I’m not one to be easily swayed by public opinion, especially on literature and entertainment (you're looking at a once hardcore twilight fan here) but suffice it to say, this movie lived up to its reviews and ratings.

If you haven’t watched the original, She’s all That, Spoiler Alert! (also, highly recommend, it’s grossly hilarious)

Loosely based on George Bernard Shaw's play, Pygmalion, the cheesy teen fiction is still a common movie found playing at sleepovers across the world. It's your typical high school movie- the popular jock gets dumped and loses his popularity. He makes an “impossible bet” to transform the dorky girl into Prom Queen material (by removing her glasses and putting on figure hugging clothes) to retrieve his dignity.

No matter the slight underlying misogyny and simple plot-line, the intense relatability, hunky actors and somewhat tasteful humour make this teen-com a classic. It’s easy to see a reflection of your high school self in the simplicity and normalcy of the characters. Although it would be ignorant to say that it was the critics’ favourite back in '99, it certainly was not as disjointed or lacking in chemistry as the new Netflix adaptation, He’s All That.

Let’s be real- not one of the main roles was given to an established teen comedy actor, which meant that with the casting alone, this movie was set up to fail. While I’m sure that she is not untalented, casting Rae, a first time actor as the female lead of a movie, reeks of a calculated gimmick to gain easy traction. Lining the movie with “celebrity” cameos from the likes of Kourtney Kardashian and Bryce Hall didn’t improve the artistic quality but instead reduced the integrity of the movie all together.

With both the male lead, Cameron (Tanner Buchanan) and male antagonist (Peyton Meyer) having starred in one of my favourite Disney shows, Girl meets World, there were definitely expectations that were not met. Meyer’s role of Dollar Store Justin Bieber had no emotional depth, and clearly no memorable feature, because one day later, (other than him looking pretty on his music video set) I can't remember what he was famous for.

A highlight of this movie was definitely Cameron’s little sister, played by Isabella Crovetti, who I can genuinely say was one of the stronger actors from the cast. Pretty much every interaction of hers seemed genuine, and gave me a break from the constant cringe the rest of the movie.

Rae and Buchanan, Leads of the Netflix Film "He's All That"

Forget the side characters, the lead couple had no chemistry, with every interaction jarring, forced and awkward. No amount of movie magic was going to make that teeth-shatteringly cringe-worthy train station scene have sparks. Rae and Buchanan seemed to be cast more on popularity than based on their chemistry and ability to commit to the role, and in a romantic comedy with little to no physical contact, the awareness of the character and the ability of the actors to throw emotion into the piece is essential for the audience to feel sparks. Unfortunately, this pair does little to that extent.

The plot was nearly an exact copy of the original, albeit a few alterations to make it “easily relatable.” However, I’m not entirely sure that creating a school brimming with influencers and their starstruck peers would do much for their education. On a side note, it was refreshing to see Padgett not struggling to choose between Ivy Leagues and instead worrying about tuition, a significantly more relatable event. Another thing that is important to note is the censoring of the movie- no drugs or heavy PDA, fancy mocktails replacing beer bottles, and a PG-13 smooch. Honestly, I have few qualms with this. The squeaky clean movie may have been one of the reasons why there was no room for character development, but hey, at least 8 years olds, which seem to be Rae’s main following, can watch her debut film!

When it comes to the director of the movie, you’d be surprised to know that Mark Waters, an American screenwriter, is the reason behind many of our favourite movies, his repertoire including Mean Girls, Freaky Friday and more. It makes me wonder if it was simply an unfortunate pairing of actors, poor casting of individuals, bad directing, or abominable writing.

All things said, I don’t think that any one of these variables was the downfall of this movie, (although I did attack the casting choices quite viciously, didn’t I?) Either way, I do hope that Addison Rae continues to pursue her dreams, and maybe with a little practice, acting classes and workshops and a lot more experience, she could grow into a multifaceted young woman. Personally, it’s not a movie I would watch again, but who knows? Maybe it’ll be a classic in another 20 years.

Written By- Aleina Gandhi

Mumbai, India

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