He's All That: You Can Do Better
Bland, Generic and Unlikeable
In this age of the perpetual reboots, Netflix has released their newest ‘creation’ and I use that term lightly, He’s All That, which is a gender-swapped remake of 1999’s She’s All That, which is a remake and reinterpretation of My Fair Lady. Now, before I go on, there is nothing wrong with a gender swapped remake as long as it tries to do its own thing, justifies its existence and creates an entertaining story. Though, one of the many problems that can be quickly seen with this movie can be found in the trailer for the movie. Take a quick watch below and see if you can find anything wrong.
Just like the trailer for She’s All That, the entire movie is spoiled in the trailer. Watch the two minute trailer and you know everything that is going to happen. But hey, maybe putting the trailer aside, the film might still be good. Well, after watching the film, I can say without a doubt that you are going to need a strong drink for this one. During this review, I will be comparing the original to the remake, which while some consider it to be unfair, needs to be done to show how to re-invent a story and make it appealing.
The Story and Writing
The story would follow *heavy sigh* social media influencer Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae), who soon discovers her boyfriend Jordan (Peyton Meyer) cheating on her, leading to her social and internet reputation being ruined after the breakup is live streamed. Following this, she makes a bet with her friend Alden (Madison Pettis) that she can take the ‘least popular boy’ Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan) and make him the prom king in order to get back her social media followers and her sponsorships.
So, as you expect, this movie is essentially the same as She’s All That in the context of the plot. However, as you watch the movie, there are a lot of problems with the writing and plot that arise. For starters, one of the reasons that Cameron is chosen is not his looks, but because he is ‘weird, arrogant, antisocial’ and that he doesn’t have a social media life! Oh, the horror! But choosing him is also a problem. He’s not anti-social, he has friends and he is not unattractive. All he needs is a haircut and boom, he is hot. There is no challenge, there is little to convince the audience that Cameron would be ‘dateless’ or that he couldn’t win prom king if he tried. I know what you are thinking “But in She’s All That Laney wasn’t ugly.” But the thing is, Laney in that movie was a character that was the direct opposite of Zackary who was against his advances at the beginning of the movie, making it harder for Zackary to do anything. It also doesn’t help that Padgett is a MAKE UP ARTIST, someone who knows how to make anyone attractive and that Cameron has a chiseled jawline and muscles. It is the same as having a cooking contest and one of the contestants being a professional chef. Cameron’s transformation is similar to the makeover joke that was made in Not Another Teen Movie, change one thing and boom, handsome.
That tangent aside, some of the other problems that this movie has would be how no one, not Cameron, not his sister Brin, not his friend Nisha (Annie Jacob) question why someone like Padgett is talking to them or trying to be close to someone like Cameron until well over half way into the movie. Even Laney in She’s All That questioned Zackary about his intentions, accusing him of wanting to cheat off of her. At one point, Cameron’s sister tells his to say ‘He went on a date with her and take the win’. The jokes in this movie also do not land at all, there was very little in the movie that can be called funny enough to warrant a chuckle.
There is also the issue with Padgett’s motivation in the movie. One of the things that she is trying to do is regain her social media standing the film, where in the beginning she drops from roughly 950,000 to less than 890,000. But forty minutes into the movie, she has already gotten that back. So, her ‘bubble girl’ incident was just a minor problem that she was able to get past with relative ease. Considering how online personalities have made mistakes and it had haunted them for years, this comes off as a misunderstanding of how the internet works.
On a side note, remember the ending scene of She’s all that where the consequence of losing the bet was that Zackary had to go to graduation naked and that scene was both memorable and honestly funny? The consequence of losing the bet in this movie is not even close to being hilarious.
It is no secret that I hate characters that are social media influencers. Most of them come off as self-obsessed, vapid and unlikeable in film. Padgett Sawyer in this film is not the exception to this. Addison Rae’s character comes off as a self-centered egoist who cares more about getting her sponsorships back rather than the people around her. Addison Rae aside, the rest of the characters of this movie are simply unlikable. Tanner Buchanan’s Cameron comes off as every pretentious artistic type that is anti-popular things with a soft spot for horses.
Truthfully, none of the characters are likeable nor are they memorable. They come off as one note characters with little happening for them, with leads with paper thin character arcs, side characters that have little impact in the movie. There is nothing that makes these characters unique or allows them to stand on their own. Truthfully, I got more enjoyment out of Matthew Lilliard’s character (A nice cameo appearance) as the school’s principal and even then, he was barely in the movie.
The cinematography in this film not worth talking about; yes, we shouldn’t expect high art or ambitious film making techniques in a remake like this, but He’s All That is visually uninteresting, annoying at times and tiring. One of the film’s gimmicks, because that what it is, and one that shows up as soon as the film starts is the use of hash-tags, on-screen texts, cell screens as framing devices and emojis. The inclusion of this is often considered amongst critics as a ‘kiss of death’ because a vast majority of films that use this are, quite honestly, trash. If you do not believe me about this, just watch The Fine Brother’s magnum opus F*** The Prom.
He’s All That is a text book example of what not to do in a remake. Bland and uninteresting characters, poor and questionable writing, lack of personality, bare basic cinematography that uses social media as a gimmick and more drag this movie into a boring 91 minute affair that does nothing to convince the audience to stay. If you want a good teen movie, watch Ten Things I hate About You, which while it is not perfect, it is a helluva lot more enjoyable than this dreck.
He's All That is available to watch on Netflix.