When rumours began that the ’90s teen classic She’s All That would be remade, the news stirred up mixed reviews. Some audiences hoped that it would be a nice tribute to the original, and others foresaw a disaster with the movie’s approach of throwing in social media stars to dazzle Generation Z. Netflix marketed He’s All That (2021) to be different from other ’90s reboots, as the original movie’s gender roles have been swapped. The film also casted TikTok star Addison Rae as Padgett Sawyer, a popular student turned loser when she discovers her influencer-rapper boyfriend, Jordan Van Draanen (Peyton Meyer), with a backup dancer on a live stream. This causes Padgett to lose her social media sponsor, Jessica (played by real-life best friend Kourtney Kardashian), setting up the infamous “zero to hero” bet with her trust fund friends.
Opposite Addison Rae, Cobra Kai’s Tanner Buchanan plays Cameron Kweller—the social pariah of high school, complete with a beanie, grungy hair, and a signature plaid button down as he carries the torch from Laney Boggs in the original film. Like Laney, Cameron has a passion that makes him the target of bullying. Laney was “closed off and artistically talented,” and Cameron is portrayed as a “horse lover” who works part-time at a stable giving riding lessons. His interests don’t seem to give off “loser vibes,” but hey, Netflix makes the rules.
As much as this film showed potential, it fell short with its cheesy product placements throughout the film (who really says, “don’t touch my Bose”?), which brought up a debate shared between all terrible films—was it the writing or just bad acting at play here?
Buchanan tries his best to add chemistry as the leading man, though singing a duet of “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry was still not enough. Additionally, Rae’s hand disappearing during the karaoke set shows how editing was low priority. Rae seems to rush her lines but nails the “dance-off” during the Prom scene. This remake couldn’t even be saved by featuring other popular names, such as Disney star Madison Pettis, who plays one of Padgett’s trust fund friends and eventually becomes the film’s antagonist. Newer fans of the film might also be surprised to learn that Rachel Leigh Cook, Padgett’s mom, used to star as Laney in the original movie. Matthew Lillard appears as well, as the high school principal who tries to be the comic relief.
Despite all the cheesiness, the most relatable aspect of this film was the irony behind Jordan Van Draanen’s success. His character evokes the stereotype of wannabe influencers and rappers with hit songs such as “Turf War in the 424” and “On the Mean Streets of Pali”—as in the Pacific Palisades where most Hollywood celebrities live in their humble mansions. Jordan Van Draanen satirizes real-life influencers that claim to come from humble beginnings or preach of a “broken past” narrative while flaunting their privilege. To say the least, I recommend this film for students who need a break from exam studying, or for people in need of some mindless content to save those last two brain cells on a bad day. He’s All That gets a generous rating of two out of five stars.