He’s All That (USA, 2021)

The 90’s classic rom-com gets a gender reversal that takes today’s issues and brings it to a head and yet, it stands as a pretty decent reboot thanks in part to the chemistry between its lead stars.

Eighteen-year old high school senior Padgett Sawyer is a social media influencer who has a wonderful relationship with her music star boyfriend Jordan Van Draanen. However, she soon finds her world turned upside down when she finds out Jordan had been cheating on her after surprising him with a treat for his birthday. Things get worse when the breakup was seen on a live stream and the aftermath is still streamed. Padgett loses her sponsorship fund, which in turn, makes her lose her money for college.

Deciding she can replace Jordan, she makes a bet with friend Alden that she can turn the biggest loser into prom king. Enter Cameron Kweller, an aspiring photographer who loves movies, especially that of the kung fu kind and who works at a horse stable. At first, Cameron is reluctant but soon enough he begins to trust Padgett. As Padgett slowly begins to fall for him, she remembers the bet and decides she must find a way to tell the truth, but even more so for Padgett, she learns something about herself in the process.

The 1999 film She’s All That is considered a classic rom-com in the vein of My Fair Lady. It was so popular that it was the main movie spoofed in Not Another Teen Movie just two years later. When it comes to gender-reversing movies, things don’t go well, like the Ghostbusters movie in 2016. Well, this one is an exception and it works because the original screenwriter of She’s All That, R. Lee Fleming Jr., returns as the writer of this film and under the director of Mark Waters (2006’s Freaky Friday remake), it actually is pretty decent.

Where Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook showed great chemistry in the former, we have a film debuting Addison Rae playing pretty much a version of herself, as she is known as a famous TikToker. To play a role one is close to should work and for Rae, it does it to a tee. Playing the new Cook role is Tanner Buchanan, who has been having quite the following since his breakout turn as Robby Keene, the estranged son of William Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence in Cobra Kai. What’s even more great here is that we learn that Buchanan’s Cameron is a movie buff, especially Kurosawa, kung fu, and Kubrick as well as his dreams of being a photographer like Cook was as an artist.

The chemistry is important, and Rae and Buchanan have the chemistry to make it work. What’s even more astounding is that we learn some truths about Padgett that finally makes her see the light after she finds herself falling for Cameron. Who better to give some advice than the original herself? Rachael Leigh Cook appears in the film as Padgett’s mother, who is only seen as “Mrs. Sawyer”. And yet, there are a few subtle nods that make it look like she could be in fact, the former Laney Boggs. And speaking of those references, Cook is not the only OG cast member returning as Matthew Lillard, who played bad boy reality star Brock in the original, plays the high school principal here.

Speaking of bad boys, we have Peyton Meyer as Jordan Van Draanen, who comes off as a heartthrob to most, but let’s face it. He is a complete arrogant douchebag who thinks he’s a rise about the rest. He even bullies Cameron on a daily basis, which helps Cameron decide to take Padgett’s advice and make over himself. While the late Paul Walker did a good job as frenemy Dean Sampson, we have former Disney star Madison Pettis as the new frenemy Alden Pierce, who not only thrives on making Padgett’s life hell, but puts salt on the wounds when she ultimately gets together with Jordan.

If you’ve seen the original film, one of the highlights was the prom dance sequence and it was spoofed in Not Another Teen Movie. Yes folks, we have another reference in another dance sequence and one more subtle reference to the original in the form of a particular song that would get the remix today.

He’s All That works as a gender-reversal of a classic rom-com that helps not just because the original screenwriter returns and updates it with today’s social media issues, but add to the mix someone playing a version of herself and a Cobra Kai star who gets to strut his stuff in a pivotal scene here. This is one of the better ones.

WFG RATING: A-

Netflix presents a Miramax production. Director: Mark Waters. Producers: Bill Block, Jennifer Gobgot, and Andrew Panay. Writer: R. Lee Fleming Jr.; based on his original screenplay “She’s All That”. Cinematography: John Guleserian. Editing: Travis Sittard.

Cast: Addison Rae, Tanner Buchanan, Madison Pettis, Peyton Meyer, Rachael Leigh Cook, Matthew Lillard, Isabella Crovetti, Annie Jacob, Myra Molloy, Kourtney Kardashian.

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