“Sorry, I have to go watch the Addison Rae movie,” I said as I jumped out of my friend’s 2014 Toyota Corolla. It was two days before move-in day. Not much was packed, but it was fine. I had time. The only thing that mattered was getting to my laptop, navigating to Netflix’s homepage and immersing myself in that day’s newest release.
In my defense, my urge to watch “He’s All That” was wholly an act of morbid curiosity. After all, I can’t think of many people who would actually want to view a remake of a film they didn’t enjoy.
When I saw “She’s All That” for the first time last summer, I was thoroughly disappointed. The ‘90s were an era when romance and romantic comedies thrived in cinema, producing a string of iconic masterpieces like “Clueless,” “10 Things I Hate About You” and my personal favorite, “Cruel Intentions.” Yet, “She’s All That” was truly not all that at all. Maybe it’s because I’ve already had my fair share of “seducing-character-for-a-bet-but-eventually-falling-in-love” clichés (thank you, Wattpad); however, the film ultimately offered me nothing but boredom and a slight fascination with Rachael Leigh Cook’s hair.
22 years later, Netflix decided to release a newer, modernized, gender-swapped and much, much worse version of “She’s All That” starring none other than TikTok “star” Addison Rae. While I would love to rant about the absurd phenomenon of TikTokers entering the entertainment industry, I doubt this would be the time or place for that. Instead, I will express my regret in admitting this is the second time I’ve mentioned a member of the Hype House within my journalistic portfolio. And I am devastated by it.
Rae plays high school senior Padgett Sawyer, a full-time student and part-time TikTok influencer who endures the humiliating event of catching boyfriend Jordan Van Draanen (Peyton Meyer) cheating on her while on livestream. In a flurry of emotional distress, Padgett fails to realize the fairly large snot bubble emerging out of her nose during the livestream and the next day, receives the nickname “Bubble Girl” from thousands of social media users. In turn, she loses a number of her followers and has her sponsorship with beauty brand “Bunny Venom” dropped.
Padgett’s initial solution for this problem is to win prom queen, which right off the bat is pretty laughable, as high school hierarchy has never, and hopefully will never, correlate with social media presence. Popular students can understandably have large social circles on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, but I can assure you that seeing a school principal place a plastic crown on your head will not gain you followers.
Simultaneously, Padgett’s friend Alden (Madison Pettis) challenges her to a bet to take any male outcast at their school and turn him into prom king. Seeing this as another way to rebuild her reputation while also getting back at Jordan, Padgett agrees and chooses Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan), an overly philosophical, anti-social media, quirky misanthropic cliché.
Padgett and Cameron get off to a rocky start, but eventually, their relationship blossoms. From there, the rest can be easily deduced: they learn about each other’s flaws and broken backgrounds, they both develop an emotional connection and realize that despite their differences, they are similar in many ways. Personally, I don’t mind this plot line. Although it has been overused, as long as it’s executed well enough, it can work.
Unfortunately, the numerous instances of pure fail prevent me from pinpointing exactly where “She’s All That” went wrong. Was it the ridiculousness of the film’s main conflict? Was it Rae’s Razzie-worthy performance? Was it the fact that Cameron started falling in love with Padgett while watching her sing and dance to “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry (not to mention that he went up to sing with her)? Or was it the three-minute long offbeat dance battle that emphasized the tragic TikTok-centricity of the film altogether?
In the end, the one redeeming element of “He’s All That” is that it makes the ‘90s original seem like a Best Picture nominee. Because of this, I would like to give Rachael Leigh Cook my sincerest apologies, not only for bashing the first film but also for her cameo in this wretched remake. You deserve better. It’s safe to say we all do.