He's All That is not... All That
One of the most common, and most often lazy, pieces of film criticism asks “Who is this movie for?” Usually the answer is self apparent and traces back to some studio’s desire to make money quickly. Every so often though, a movie comes around that so violently antagonizes every potential audience that its very existence comes into question. Forgive me for asking, but who is He’s All That for?
Right off the bat, the case for rebooting the 1999 teen comedy She’s All That is dubious at best. At the time, the Rachel Leigh Cook led film did reasonably well at the box office, reaching number one for a brief time, but suffered from decidedly middling reviews. Even if She’s All That was mildly popular in the moment, it certainly has not garnered the same cult adoration as things like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Clueless or Mean Girls. To put it another way, nobody was clamoring for a reboot.
He’s All That tracks fairly closely in plot to the original. A popular kid, in this case Padgett Sawyer (Tik Tok star Addison Rae), is humiliated after a breakup and takes on a bet to turn the biggest loser, in this case Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan) into the Prom King. While the kids of She’s All That were simply rich, white and popular, this updated version adds the insidious designation of social media influencer to its lead character.
If that simple description of the film doesn’t speak for itself, let me spell it out explicitly: the whole movie is schlock. Netflix has a habit of mass producing low budget teen rom-coms with absolutely no concern for their quality but He’s All That is a whole different level. The Kissing Booth spawned two sequels because, despite being almost impossibly bad, those films had a slow motion car crash watchability to them. There is no level of self awareness here.
Addison Rae must have some level of charisma to have attracted such a large audience online, but the only thing she shows here is that she isn’t an actor. Her performance is devoid of any personality and shockingly is actually one of the better performances in the film. The best though belongs to Kourtney Kardashian, reading lines so poorly that she actually convinces you she’s not lived on television for a decade. Perhaps most infuriating of all is that they are all genuinely trying and coming up wildly short. The whole team misses both the passable quality of To All the Boys and the campiness of The Kissing Booth.
Even the most generous read of He’s All That is still pretty specious. Perhaps a few creatives with nostalgia for a high school comedy that resonated with them wanted to bring that energy to a new generation. Does Gen Z really care about dozens of direct nods to a middling rom-com that came out before they were born?
Worse — and perhaps more likely — the folks at Miramax (literally the only redeeming factor of He’s All That is that Harvey Weinstein is not involved like with the original) thought they could cash in on the nostalgia trend. If that is the case, it’s baffling. Maybe I’m getting old, but He’s All That depicts a version of high school that is completely foreign to me. It’s like what some old man — R. Lee Fleming, 51, is the credited writer of both She and He’s All That — thinks that high school looks like in the social media age.
The result is something completely alienating to just about every potential viewer. Padgett and her friends rattle around a very wealthy campus talking to each other enthusiastically about up to the minute follower counts and staging impromptu TikTok dances. The shallowness of these characters is borderline offensive.
He’s All That is the first movie I’ve seen in a long time to not even warrant it’s own existence. Plenty of films are bad, but nearly all of them have redeeming qualities, little moments of hope or are at least entertainingly lackluster. He’s All That is simply not worth watching for even one minute of its runtime. 1/10