He’s All That REVIEW – Entertaining Fluff

He's All That does a good job of adapting She's All That for a modern setting.

He's All That
He's All That

When I saw the trailer for He’s All That, I was pretty much prepared to hate-watch this film. It looked sub-par due to the poor editing and none of the jokes in the trailer landed at all. It’s also directed by Mark Waters – director of Mean Girls and Freaky Friday – who peaked in the 2000s and hasn’t had a good outing since. How the mighty have fallen, I thought.

Then I watched it and, well, it wasn’t so bad? Some of the critics are calling it a misfire and comparing it to The Kissing Booth. My response to them? How dare you. The Kissing Booth trilogy is a bad series of films, and the third one was horrendous because it didn’t have a proper sense of conflict driving it. The characters are also juvenile and overreact to nearly everything.

He’s All That is definitely better, and actually updates itself quite well in comparison to the original. Unlike some recent teen movies, which feel really dated in their exploration of teenhood (Netflix’s The Last Summer comes to mind), the script here does a decent job. Our protagonist Padgett (Addison Rae) finds herself humiliated online after a livestream gone wrong, where the internet was basically privy to her having a complete breakdown after she discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her.

Her boyfriend is Jordan Van Draanen, played hilariously by Peyton Meyer. He was the nicest guy ever on Girl Meets World, and a world class douche here – not much range in between but he sells the role well. Padgett is an influencer, and because of her livestream fiasco, she lost a sizeable number of followers, and her sponsorship falls apart. This is especially grating since Jordan’s socials have skyrocketed in comparison. There is a quick nod here to the imbalance between men and women even on social media, where his cheating behaviour is rewarded while she is scorned for not being perfect.

But Padgett still believes in herself and her skills – after all, she was instrumental in creating Jordan’s look – so when her friend Alden (Madison Pettis) challenges her to make over the biggest loser and turn him into prom king, she gamely accepts. Enter Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan), who is something of a misanthrope, and loathes every moment of high school culture. He can’t wait to graduate and travel the world, leaving this superficial, meretricious society behind.

Just like in the original film, where Freddie Prinze Jr’s Zach attends Laney Boggs’ performance art show, Padgett shows up at the horse stables to connect with Cameron (he really likes horses). As one of the folks who appreciates She’s All That, and sees its value as a teen flick despite some dated concepts, I always found the romance between Zach and Laney to be a little weak. Padgett and Cameron are a different story — I enjoyed their interactions together and the believable romance is what made this film work for me.

I think the key difference is that Laney was kind of awkward, while Cameron is actually pretty witty, so this made for some lively banter between the two. I like that the pair have overlaps in interests, both obsessed with taking pictures but for different reasons. They also grow and learn from each other, which is definitely a positive thing for a teen movie.

Rachael Leigh Cook, who played Laney in the original film, takes on the role of Padgett’s mother in this. I know they did this for nostalgic reasons, but Cook as a mother just does not work. Maybe she should have been an older sister or something. This relationship doesn’t work visually, nor does it play out realistically on screen.

Because of that, the emotional, heart-felt moments of the film are really lacking. Rae is good at portraying the fun and outgoing side of Padgett, but the vulnerable depiction feels a bit soulless. In comparison, Cameron’s relationship with his sister Brin (Isabella Crovetti) has greater credibility, and the little moments between the two just work better. Interestingly, both Buchanan and Meyer were on Girl Meets World together, they even liked the same girl at one point, so it strangely felt a bit nostalgic as I watched the pair of them lock horns and battle (quite literally) on screen.

While this film won’t be quite as iconic as She’s All That, much like how Ocean’s 8 will always be in the shadow of Ocean’s Eleven, it was still a really fun movie. I wouldn’t pay money to see it in cinemas, but it is perfectly suitable for Netflix.

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He's All That
The romance between the leads is actually pretty sweet and credible, which makes for an enjoyable watch.