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‘He’s All That’ Is Surprisingly All That

by Sam Nungesser

Movie and television lovers are no strangers to the age of remakes. From any Disney-movie-turned-live-action to television classics such as “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Gossip Girl,” we’ve seen it all. While these remakes draw out a certain nostalgia, they can just as easily ruin the film, especially when they omit the classic feel and replace it with Gen Z, well, everything.

The same mistakes have happened time and time again, and when I first saw “She’s All That” was getting a Netflix remake called “He’s All That,” starring TikTok dancer Addison Rae, I expected it to turn out the exact same way. I wondered how they could take the ‘90s classic that starred Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook and not ruin it with a TikToker.

However, having since watched it, I stand corrected.

Don’t get me wrong, it is totally stained with Gen Z, but the story pays enough homage to the original while also making fun of the shallowness that is social media and today’s obsession with self-image, making it a fun and enjoyable watch. And for her first real acting gig, Rae isn’t as bad as one could have expected. In fact, she plays the part quite well.

Madison Pettis (left) and Myra Molloy (center) play Padgett's friends, Alden and Quinn. Photo courtesy of Netflix

Madison Pettis (left) and Myra Molloy (center) play Padgett’s friends, Alden and Quinn.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

The premise follows a similar pattern as the original film, albeit gender-swapped. Rae, who plays Padgett Sawyer, is an Instagram influencer. When one faulty livestream threatens her sponsorship and college fund, she accepts a challenge to redeem herself from the Paul Walker character of this film, Alden, played by “The Game Plan” star Madison Pettis. The challenge calls Padgett to turn their high school’s least popular boy, Cameron Kweller, played by “Cobra Kai” star Tanner Buchanan, into a prom king.

I am happy to announce the ‘90s trope of obtaining instant beauty once removing one’s glasses was substituted with obtaining instant hunkiness by giving Cameron a haircut.

Speaking of Cameron, a standout scene in “He’s All That” and blatant reference to his karate prowess in “Cobra Kai” comes to mind when he releases those “wax on, wax off” moves on his constant tormenter, Padgett’s ex-boyfriend. This was a small part of the film but felt worth mentioning.

The film’s plot moves smoothly and feels just close enough to the original flick without being the exact same. Yes, there is another choreographed dance scene at the prom, just like all high schools have. And yes, they end the film with a pop remix of “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer.

Rachael Leigh Cook, who plays Laney in "She&squot;s All That," returned to star as Padgett&squot;s mom. Photo courtesy of Netflix

Rachael Leigh Cook, who plays Laney in “She’s All That,” returned to star as Padgett’s mom.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

In fact, Cook, who played the original nerdy girl, Laney Boggs, in “She’s All That,” plays Padgett’s mom in the remake. It was hard to miss her cheekily asking why she knew the song when it started playing.

“He’s All That” stays true to the heart of the story portraying its vain “makeover challenge” theme. However, Rae manages to embody the girl with more to her than the glitz and glamour of being an influencer in 2021 the same way Prinze Jr. did for the jock with the “perfect life” in 1999.

Though Buchanan executed the role of Cameron in a similarly flawless way, my only gripe is that his character development seemed to happen a little too quickly. Cameron seemingly lost his righteous arrogance in one of his very first scenes with Padgett. Perhaps making him more of a challenge would have further emphasized the drastic personality shift.

One cameo the movie could have done without is Kourtney Kardashian’s. She plays Jessica Miles Torres, who sponsors Padgett on social media. Though she’s only seen when she calls Padgett to threaten her sponsorship, the reality star is no actress and should absolutely keep it that way.

Rae plays an Instagram influencer who attempts to turn the weirdest kid in school into a prom king. Photo courtesy of Netflix

Rae plays an Instagram influencer who attempts to turn the least popular boy in school into a prom king.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

Overall, “He’s All That” is a lighthearted take on the classic teen rom-com. It has its cringe moments, but that’s to be expected from a movie of its genre. For anyone looking to stream something new, Netflix’s “He’s All That” is sure to keep a smile on your face from start to finish.

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