TBT – She’s All That (1999)

films, reviews, TBT

Rating: 2 out of 5.

In my review of Love, Guaranteed on Tuesday, I suggested that my main motivation for watching it was to escape from reality with something ridiculous. That was partly the case. After all, the more news I watch the less energy I have for dramatic narratives. However, I won’t pretend that it was my only motivation. Really, I wanted to use it as an excuse to rewatch She’s All That. I can’t remember the last time that I watched this film but, for a time, it was definitely something I watched all the time. Along with 10 Things I Hate About You, this was a film that had a prominent place in my teenage years. I clearly didn’t have great taste at the time but I don’t think anybody really does in their early teens, right?

There are a lot of things to feel embarrassed about when it comes to the late 90s and early 00s. The fashion was questionably to say the least. I mean, jut look at the poster for this film. Freddie Prinze Jr. is wearing an oversized striped shirt and his hair is ridiculously spiked. Rachael Leigh Cook is wearing one one of those awful halter neck, spaghetti strap vests that everyone had back then. It’s dreadful. But worse, perhaps, than the clothes was the abundance of High School romantic comedies. Romantic comedies that took the traditional form of unpopular girl and a popular guy eventually realising that they were meant to be together.

She’s All That had the added bonus of the Pygmalion style make-over. It’s the classic hot actress pretends to be ugly until somebody takes away her glasses, does something with her hair, and puts some makeup on her face. Cook starts off the film as the angry and arty Laney. She’s a nerd and hates the majority of her fellow students. Her mother died when she was younger, so she ends up having to raise her younger brother and deal with her father. Instead of having a carefree teenage life, Laney is working, cleaning, and worrying about everything. The last thing she needs is for popular hunk, Zack, to pick her to be the subject of his bet.

That bet states that he can turn her life around in 6 weeks so she is crowned as prom queen. Considering Rachael Leigh Cook is an astonishingly beautiful person, this ends up being stupidly easy but there is a problem. Zack starts falling for Laney right before she finds out about the bet. Can he win her back round before it’s too late? I’m asking the question but, even if you haven’t seen this film, there’s no real mystery here. This is a film that takes an already unoriginal premise and manages to make it even more predictable. It’s kind of painful watching it now because it really doesn’t even try.

Although, being fair to it, I guess She’s All That attempts to reach for something deeper. Laney is attempting to deal with her grief and the reasons she remains such a loner. The only problem is that this is all to often pushed aside in favour of the main plot. There is far too much of the usual High School Politics here. You get the sense that everyone involved knows this is a dud and is trying to make the best of it. The main issue is that this just isn’t funny enough to be memorable. There are some good moments but, as a whole, this just doesn’t stand up. Much like the fashion, She’s All That should probably be left back in 1999 where it belongs.

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