She's All That (1999)

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It seems like there’s a Hollywood rule that every time there’s the impetus of a trend of films at the box office, there eventually has to be a satirical film made about it. After countless teen oriented garbage, 2001 saw the release of the hysterical “Not Another Teen Movie.” Granted, the movie on its own is hilarious if you were very familiar with the teen junk of the late nineties and early aughts, but “She’s All That” already accomplished such a feat of mocking this trend. The inexplicable box office hit of 1999 is perhaps one of the stupidest and most inane romantic dramas ever made.

It has the pleasure of being a loose (emphasis on loose) adaptation of “Pygmalion” and “My Fair Lady” with none of the dramatic appeal of either source material. The movie itself feels like a lampooning of John Hughes films opting for dramatic and narrative moves that are often over the top in terms of what Hughes would have accomplished. The cast is seemingly all in their twenties, in spite of being high schoolers. Hell, Paul Walker–who was twenty seven during the making of the film–should be teaching classes, and is instead a senior. In the centerpiece of the finale, there’s this big dance scene during the prom where the student body inexplicably dances in unison, and there’s a great focus on main character Zack’s ex-girlfriend’s affair with a goofy “Real World” cast member.

I guess it was probably to cross promote the show and the movie during the late nineties. As for characters, they’re either very broadly written or just one dimensional props meant to show enough skin for the PG-13 rating. Rachael Leigh Cook, even when she’s at her pretties during the dramatic “make over” portion of the final half, is immensely downplayed as a sex kitten in favor of the more commercially appealing Jodi Lynne O’Keefe. It’s a task to make Cook seem nerdy when most nineties kids remember her fondly as the hot chick who trashes a kitchen in those drug commercials. As for her character, there’s really not a lot of reason to root for main character Laney Boggs beyond the fact that she’s supposed to be the protagonist of the film.

The poor woman’s Molly Ringwald, she’s an often pompous and shrill love interest who spends most of the movie trying to show everyone how bohemian and sensitive she is, while the film insists that she’s in a lesser financial status than the rest of her classmates. In reality, she lives in a neighborhood that most people would cut their thumbs off to live in, and she’s able to garner resources to perform her goofy (white face paint and all) art on stage in a scenic art district in her town. But since she’s not as flashy as her classmates, she’s–by the standards of the film–in poverty. But that’s okay, because she’s so complex and deep, as she wears glasses through most of the film, and even brings an art pad to the beach when invited along with love interest Zack and his friends. Of course we all know that deep down this pretentious hipster is a real beauty, but even when she’s beautiful she’s not entirely unique or interesting.

She has a great complexion, olive skin, weighs about a hundred pounds, can fit in to most dresses, but she wears glasses so she must rightfully be ringing bells in a tower somewhere. “She’s All That” is based around the futile attempt to garner some sense of charisma or talent out of Freddie Prinze Jr. and he fails disastrously to create some semblance of an interesting character let alone one we can root for. Prinze as the popular jock in the white bread high school also feels much too old to be bought as a high schooler, but then Prinze could never be bought as any kind of character during his brief career. “She’s All That” is a laughable film and one that doesn’t need a spoof to show how idiotic it tends to be. John Hughes is in no risk of being replaced any time soon, as “She’s All That” is an unwatchable teen romance drama with piss poor performances, embarrassing writing, and a group of stars whose shelf life was a merciful two years.