Released: 27th August
Seen: 29th August
Pygmalion is a 1913 play by George Bernard Shaw about a little flower girl being taught how to be a proper English lady after a bet between two men, Higgins and Pickering. If this sounds familiar to those who’ve never heard of Pygmalion that’d be because this play ended up being the inspiration for the mega musical My Fair Lady. It also inspired the 1999 film She’s All That, which hasn’t aged well but I promise you was a gigantic hit back in the day. It was part of this period of time where a lot of classic stories got updated for a 90s teen audience and it might have been the most successful of the bunch, although Cruel Intentions and 10 Things I Hate About You have seemed to live on a lot stronger in pulp culture.
Well, now we appear to be going through a phase where we take classic comedies and then gender swap the leads, which in the case of What Men Want was moderately humorous and in the case of Overboard was tasteless to the point of being accidentally racist. So, where does He’s All That fall on this quality spectrum… whatever end is the closest you can get to horse shit.
He’s All That is the exact story I mentioned earlier but with names chanced and genders swapped. Preppy Tik Tok famous girl Padget Sawyer (Addison Rae) is going through some trouble because a meme of her crying with snot coming out her nose (cos that would totally be memed) has gone viral causing her to lose sponsorships, something teenagers have now – GOD I FEEL OLD! Anyway, in order to get some online clout back she promises to turn some schelbby guy into Prom King material and ends up picking Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan), someone who is so obviously good looking that a blind donkey could handle this makeover. What follows is the exact plot of every version of Pygmalion to ever be told, except this version is boring and unfunny and devoid of anything resembling value.
Look, I’ll be honest here and cop to the reality that She’s All That wasn’t exactly a great film either. It was the late 90s, we were going through a Freddie Prinze Jr phase where any film he was in basically got all the teenagers going to see it. You know what it did have though? Decent performances by actors who were worth your time watching and occasionally funny lines and moments memorable enough to be worth parodying in later feature films. That’s more than He’s All That has, which isn’t hard because He’s All That has absolutely nothing of value to offer.
He’s All That strains hard to try and find something resembling a joke throughout the run time and, far as I can tell, the only line worth laughing at is when the 22 year old douche that is still in high school for some reason complains about having to drink a Mango drink… that’s it, that’s the one time I could find something resembling a joke. Everything else is just pointless white noise, which is appropriate in a film mostly about affluent white people making a bunch of pointless noise that no one asked to hear.
There’s a sliver of potential here with the updated addition of social media, which in theory allows this film to comment on how we’re all allowing ourselves to be changed in order to receive attention and praise from people we’ll never meet. It’s an addition that could actually be good, it would fit in with the story itself and we could have a good little bit of social commentary… oh there I go, imagining this film was written by someone who had their handle on how to write a script. No, it’s just written by the same person who wrote She’s All That (which… did he just go through the old script and delete all the jokes? Great work if you can get it). The one half decent idea that this film could’ve had, it avoids like… something we actually avoid, I can’t say “Avoid like the plague” anymore because now we know that a lot of people don’t do that.
Hell, there’s even potential in this thanks to the casting of Rachel Leigh Cook and Matthew Lillard who were both in She’s All That… hell, Rachel was the titular She so having her in this cast could bring along more interesting ideas. The daughter of Laney Boggs (yes that was the character’s name in She’s All That, blame the writer of… well, both of these movies) now being the one doing the very thing that was done to Laney? Without Freddie Prinze around they could even point out how toxic this entire idea is and how it only leads to pain and to avoid the mistakes of the past but again, there I go, being imaginative. No, these actors are here playing new roles that have no relation to the original film and are there for the people who remember the 1999 movie… who have the 1999 movie and do not need this.
Maybe I just want them to lean into those two good actors because no one else is worth talking about. I’m sorry but none of these kids are that good, I’m sure they’ll improve with time but every line they said was painful and the chemistry was non-existent. It’s almost like casting someone who is famous for dancing on tik tok to be the star of your film where she’s meant to act is just asking for trouble. No one here brings anything interesting, even the potential villains of the film aren’t fun or intimidating. They’re annoying, it’s all very, very annoying. At least in the 1999 movie the actors were charming and talented enough to make the material work… none of that here, it’s just generically attractive people pretending to be interesting for an hour and a half and I just do not have the patience for that.
He’s All That is just bad, it’s a pointless remake that proves that the 90s were a mistake. Maybe the best way to truly describe He’s All That is to use a line from the film itself, because the one time He’s All That said anything I agree with is when it may as well have been talking about itself… “The whole thing was just a freakish abberation”