He’s All That tries hard to be relevant to our TikTok obsessed generation, but it ends up feeling like a poor man’s take on the original film. Let’s talk that original 90s rom-com classic for a second—1999’s She’s All That defined a generation, and it is a touchstone romance for most during that iconic era. In this modern take, a useless reveal of gender dynamic attempts to juxtapose Padgett (Addison Rae) and her viewing of a follower count as a badge of honor against Cameron (Tanner Buchanan), who sees followers as “a cult” and finds the obsession with selfies completely narcissistic. It takes the basic plot structure of the original and simply flips the male and female roles. Padgett is vain and popular at the beginning of the story, whilst Cameron is an introverted photographer.
Padgett’s presence on social media is apparent from the opening scene, where we follow her as she live streams her meticulous morning routine that is essentially one big product endorsement. It is not long before she walks in on her popular high school rapper boyfriend Jordan (Peyton Meyer) during a stream. Embarrassingly, Padgett finds him kissing another woman, has an emotional breakdown, and blows a snot bubble into the camera before realizing that she is still streaming.
After this, Padgett’s life is thrown into turmoil as she goes viral from the aforementioned nostril bubble; she is nicknamed “Bubble Girl” by the internet. Yes, this plot is as absurd as it sounds. Her endorsement drops her (“mucus is not on brand”), and the only thing she can do to prove herself is to show she can take anything or anyone and make it popular. She makes a bet with her friend, Alden (Madison Pettis), that she can transform anyone into a prom king. Enter: the “weird, arrogant, and anti social” outsider Cameron. He made one tweet in 2019 that said “no,” so he basically doesn’t exist. His hair is disheveled, but slick it back and throw on a suit, and ta-da! Your modern day equivalent of the glasses and a ponytail. He also happens to love horses, and there is a prom on the horizon! What better way to bond than horse riding lessons?
It is difficult to relate to any of this, mainly because Padgett’s motivations are unquestionably dull. She is so self-obsessed. Are we supposed to identify with a character whose own mom (played by the original movie’s Rachel Leigh Cook) says her “shoes cost more than their dishwasher?” The cute moments between Padgett and Cameron are not frequent enough to get past the schmaltzy lesson about being something that you are not. Pool party drama lifted straight from the original, as well as a predictable “prom-posal,” are far too straightforward and lack surprise or depth.
He’s All That is ultimately one big missed opportunity after another. You bring back Rachel Leigh Cook and Matthew Lillard only to waste them, and dodge easy attempts to try to link the two films together? That is just lazy writing. It becomes even more tragic then that the best moment of He’s All That is a cute throwback to the original, Cyn’s cover of “Kiss Me.” Leigh Cook’s Anna even mentions, “why do I know this song,” which is an adorable nod to her role. It is one of the only parts that is genuinely satisfying and fun. Overall, it simply lacks the charm of the original. He’s All That is not really all that.
He’s All That heads exclusively to Netflix on Friday, August 27th.