This past year, TikTok culture has swept teen culture in a massive and defining way. Because of this, it’s not at all surprising that it would someday inevitably clash with a coming-of-age movie. Mark Waters' He’s All That is the product of a particular time we’re living in, where being viral and simultaneously a high school student can absolutely happen and does. And sure, it’s relevant and maybe relatable to that audience, but watching teens stare at their phones and talk about how many followers they have is rarely entertaining – and this is no exception, especially when this Netflix release does so to update a ‘90s classic as endearing as She’s All That.
He’s All That stars one of TikTok’s biggest names, Addison Rae, who plays a high school adjacent version of herself: a teen influencer named Padgett who has a lot of eyes on her all the time. But when Padgett publicly goes ballistic in front of her followers after catching her now also-famous boyfriend (Peyton Meyer) cheating on her, she must wrestle with not being on top of the internet’s list. In true She’s All That fashion, she decides to take a bet to turn one of the student body’s biggest outcasts, Tanner Buchanan’s Cameron, into a viral sensation to get back on the “like” column.
The twist on She’s All That is a forced, predictable and lazy remake of a ‘90s classic.
The most hilarious part about He’s All That is the twist being placed on the She’s All That story that is a stretch to believe and get behind. This isn't to say that Laney Boggs taking off her glasses and slipping into a red dress in the original was exactly a jaw-dropping premise, but in the 1999 version it was backed by a story of opening up to someone and getting past her fears. For He’s All That, Addison Rae is working with a ‘project’ who is already classically attractive and kind of cool. There’s barely a point to any of it. All Tanner Buchanan’s version of Laney needs is to put his beanie in the wash and get a haircut and he’s pretty much viral ready.
Now, there are some nuggets in He’s All That about the relationship between social media and today’s teens that hit, but overall it lacks effectiveness due to its lack of inspiration. The Netflix movie very much goes for a lazy made-for-TV mindset with this remake, and it’s flat out draining to watch. There are a lot of missed opportunities throughout, some of which we might not blink twice at if the movie wasn’t already rehashing a '90s classic that did it way better (even in the shadow of the 1999 movie having its own clichés).
Tanner Buchanan manages to stand out and bring some spark to He’s All That.
Despite the Cobra Kai actor having a dumb story arc to work with, Tanner Buchanan does carry this film gracefully and adds some magic between him and Addison Rae’s budding love story. Cameron is a film camera enthusiast who challenges Padgett to live in the moment and see more in her life than followers and views. Believe me, it’s still super lame, but Buchanan shows he’s a solid actor beyond his TV show roots and provides some decent moments out of Rae too, who is otherwise a novice in the acting department.
Another kicker about He’s All That is how surface level its characters are and how blurred the lines are between its actors and who they are playing. For example, Buchanan has a full-on Cobra Kai moment midway through the movie despite there being absolutely zero setup for the actor being interested in the martial arts. It takes the audience completely out of it and feels like Netflix is telling you, "Don’t forget it’s the Cobra Kai guy!" Rae and Buchanan also sing a song together and there’s a ‘dance off’ likely purely because she is known for posting her moves on TikTok. There’s just so much here that’s incoherent and out of place here that makes He’s All That feel like a lab experiment by a studio more than a movie.
How dare He’s All That waste Rachael Leigh Cook and Matthew Lillard’s time.
The worst offense of He’s All That is its sore attempt to bring nostalgia from the first movie into this one that is barely worthy of being connected to She’s All That. Both Rachael Leigh Cook and Matthew Lillard make appearances, but they are careless cameos that don’t add anything to He’s All That other than it just being kind of nice to see these talents in general. There’s barely a connection to the original with their involvement and genuinely feels wasteful of their time and the legacy of She’s All That.
Lillard brings some fun energy to the new movie's prom scene, but overall He’s All That did not deserve it’s original actors' involvement. The Netflix release does have its cute moments if you’re looking for a rather vanilla romantic comedy to check out, but overall it’s a better opportunity to at least school its audience on appreciating She’s All That instead.
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