When She’s All That premiered in 1999, it made Rachel Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinze Jr. stars, shot to Number 1 at the box office, and immortalized Sixpence None The Richer’s “Kiss Me” as a rom-com classic. It also reinforced some seriously sexist ideas and might make one cringe a bit during a 2021 rewatch. He’s All That, now streaming on Netflix, gender swaps the “bet” at the center of the film, throws in some social media, and seeks to undo the original’s sexist sins.
The Gist: Teenager Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae) is an influencer. When she’s not attending high school, she’s promoting sponsored products from Bunny Venom and bonding with her mother Anna (Rachel Leigh Cook, who you’ll recognize as Laney Boggs from the original), an overworked nurse. The two of them live in a modest home in Los Angeles, and to impress her rich school friends, Padgett lies about living in a fancy apartment building. One morning, after staying up late to bake a gluten-free croquembouche for her boyfriend, up-and-coming music sensation Jordan (Peyton Meyer), she discovers he’s been cheating on her – while live streaming for her hundreds of thousands of followers to see.
Humiliated and heartbroken, Padgett watches her emotional reaction to this betrayal go viral and her followers drop dramatically. She soon gets a call from Bunny Venom’s Jessica Miles Torres (Kourtney Kardashian), who tells her they won’t be able to sponsor her anymore if things don’t improve – and fast. Devastated by the idea of losing her college fund, Addison accepts a bet from one of her BFFs, Alden (Madison Pettis): make over a “loser” at school, turn him into a Prom King, and get her sponsorship and followers back. Her project? Social media hater and all-around grump Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan). While Padgett initially begins this process with the end goal in mind, she soon forms a real bond with Cameron. Sparks fly between the two as prom approaches and their eyes are both opened to new worlds, but will the truth destroy everything they’ve built?
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: The obvious comparison is the film’s predecessor She’s All That, but He’s All That may also bring to mind another teen classic, 10 Things I Hate About You, as well as more recent Netflix hits like The Kissing Booth and To All The Boys Ive Loved Before.
Performance Worth Watching: Annie Jacob is adorable and totally hilarious as Cameron’s BFF Nisha, but I gotta hand it to Matthew Lillard for straight-up running away with the end of the movie. I gasped. I was utterly delighted. Between his deadpan delivery of silly lines, fancy dance moves, and sweet specs, he’s pretty much irresistible. The resurgence of Lillard’s career (and RESPECT put on his iconic ’90s roles as of late) is one of my favorite things happening in Hollywood right now.
Memorable Dialogue: “You don’t deserve me, my love, and my croquembouche, you croquem-douche!” is so ridiculous that I couldn’t help but write it down. So, so silly that it warrants mentioning here.
Sex and Skin: There’s a very silly spray-tanned boy who gets caught hooking up off camera with a bikini-wearing gal in his trailer, but not much else.
Our Take: The first indicator that He’s All That was going to be “meh” was its source material; She’s All That is a deeply average movie, steeped in sexism and weighed down by an uneven script. It’s perhaps only saved by how adorable Rachel Leigh Cook is and the charming, crooked smile belonging Freddie Prinze Jr. in his heyday, and He’s All That follows suit. This is a vapid, empty script only salvaged by endearing performances from its leads, who do their best to elevate some seriously shallow material. To the film’s credit, it does dramatically improve on the sexist overtones of the original, but it misses the many opportunities to say something interesting about social media and our obsession with physical appearance.
The highlights of He’s All That are its stunt casting; Kourtney Kardashian is genuinely funny as a monotonous, Peloton-riding Insta-brand manager, truly leaning into her reality roots, it’s delightful to see the glowing Rachel Leigh Cook star as Padgett’s mother, Anna, and Matthew Lillard straight up grabs this movie and runs away with it in the final act. (Lillard’s hilarious turn here is not all that surprising, especially given that he also stole the show in the original as gassy, dance-loving Real World star Brock Hudson). While Lillard may be the reason to watch the film, I will say I was charmed by a few other moments shared between our two young leads, and hearing the opening chords of “Kiss Me” sent my heart aflutter. If only the entirety He’s All That had the same effect.
Our Call: SKIP IT. While some of the performances are charming (and Matthew Lillard makes the last act worth watching), He’s All That is a shallow, unnecessary retooling of average and problematic source material.
Jade Budowski is a freelance writer with a knack for ruining punchlines, hogging the mic at karaoke, and thirst-tweeting. Follow her on Twitter: @jadebudowski.
Stream He’s All That on Netflix