Well, this is a blast from the past. Recently, a remake of one of my all-time favorite romance movies came out. The original She’s All That is a romance movie starring Freddie Prinze Jr, Rachael Leigh Cook, Paul Walker and even featured an appearance from Matthew Lillard. It was an amazing movie back in the 90’s, it was well produced. However, as this remake stands, it is flawed because the modernization of the story hasn’t aged well. The point of a remake is to modernize the original content for a newer audience. The new movie, He’s All That, does this but at times fails to hit the mark. The new movie stars TikTok star, Addison Rae in the lead role. Rather than being about the guy having to turn the most unpopular girl in school into Prom Queen, the roles are swapped. Tanner Buchanan plays the role of the unpopular guy named Cameron Kweller. His role is similar to a goth who hates everything about school, the student populace, and finds solace in abnormal music tracks and photography. Addison plays the role of Padgett Sawyer, a high school student and social media influencer who treats her social media life as her job and is trying to get enough money to go to college. Rachael Leigh Cook and Matthew Lillard make appearances as well, returning from the previous film. Rachael as the mother of Padgett, and Matthew as the Principal of Padgett and Cameron’s school.
The boyfriend turned ex of Padgett, played by Peyton Meyer, is named Jordan, a wannabe singer. Essentially this is a movie where the norms of social media meet the intricacy of teenage life in a modern-day setting. In the original movie, social media did not exist so everyone talked on the phone or in person. In this new movie, Padgett has a lot of self-reflection when the bet is made. Madison Pettis plays the best friend turned rival who the bet was made with. Having not seen Pettis act since she was a young movie star, I was a little concerned that she wouldn’t be able to play the role as well. She does a commendable job of going from good to bad. Although I find it odd how her character switches from being a friend to a foe in the blink of an eye.
The roles of Padgett and Cameron are played well. There is LGBTQ+ representation in the movie, and unlike the original it is a lot more diverse. What the movie struggles with, though, is believability in terms of some of the plot elements. Earlier, I said that the movie dealt with the norms of social media combined with real life, but this is hardly believable in my opinion. Personally, I find it unbelievable because of the idea that while social media is an important part of today’s society, I honestly doubt a teenager would really care about their social media presence to the extent these teenagers do. Especially someone as popular as Padgett. At the same time however, it’s at least explained in the movie why she cares so much about being an influencer so it’s not completely ignored. The movie explains this by some of the cast using social media while Buchanan’s character doesn’t use social media at all. In my experience, most people don’t care about social media in real life to the extent that Padgett did. I find it a little hard to believe realistic teenagers would be able to gain internet fame to the point she has. In my opinion, I also think that her friends wouldn’t be aware or socially conscious of her perception on social media. Again, I find it hard to believe that a very powerful social media personality and seller of products would sponsor a teenager for a long period of time. Some young influencers do get promoted, but I’m not aware of any influencers who are still in high school.
Some of the things I do believe, however, are some of the backstories of some of the characters. Padgett’s mom works 60 hours a week to support her and her daughter, Padgett’s father left her and her mom many years ago, and it’s obvious that Padgett is a very intelligent teenager. Cameron meanwhile doesn’t care about anything because of the death of his mom and considers his camera the most worthwhile thing he has gained, because of that relationship. It makes it more heartbreaking when you find out his mom died, leaving him and his sister all alone with their grandmother. It’s his dream to see the world before the end of summer after graduating. Through getting to know each other Cameron and Padgett open up about themselves and grow closer throughout the entire second half of the film.
Overall, I’d say that the film had good acting at times, as well as a lazily slapped together plot. However, the ending needed work. The movie ends with a speech from Padgett about how she was wrong and has lost the most important person in her life, being Cameron. The most unlikely woman gets crowned prom queen when Padgett says she doesn’t want it. Padgett and Cameron reunite when he returns on horseback saying he never lost her. The movie finally ends with them traveling the world together. The film was overall a modern retelling of the original, but really needed a better plot, the actors did a great job, but their performance could have been better. I’d say watch it for the romance, don’t watch it for anything else.