Mon. Oct 18th, 2021

Netflix released a new teen drama on August 25 titled He’s All That, mirroring the storyline of 1999 film She’s All That.

The storyline

The plot follows Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae), a teen social media influencer. The plot thickens only a few minutes into the film when Sawyer discovers that her high profile boyfriend, Jordan Van Draanen (Peyton Meyer), is cheating on her with a backup dancer from his music video. In an overly dramatic fashion, she crashes and burns — she loses a large number of her social media followers and her sponsorships and believes her life is over.

Her two best friends, Alden (Maddison Pettis) and Quinn (Myra Molloy) challenge her to take the stereotypical outcast student and make him prom king. The movie presents Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan) as anti-social, unconcerned with popularity, and entirely over with the drama of high school.

Sawyer befriends Kweller and makes him over — at a turning point in the movie, the duo attend a Great Gatsby-themed birthday party, and Sawyer turns Kweller into a new person. Sawyer begins to fall in love with Kweller, but in a predictable turn of events, he doesn’t know that her involvement with him is all part of a bet. 

Alden turns out to be plotting against Sawyer for prom queen, so she spills the beans to Kweller about the bet. Kweller is enraged and goes off the grid right before prom. 

But there’s always a happy ending — Kweller shows up like a knight in shining armor to prom, and Sawyer finally figures out that popularity isn’t all that great, ditching the prom queen crown to be with Kweller.

Overall, the movie wasn’t all that

It was just another boring, predictable teen drama, creating false views of what high school is like. To its credit, it is a modern retake of a previously created film, so it is already going to be a repeat, but every scene had a painfully obvious ending. The only things that were surprising (such as a random dance battle at prom) were uncomfortable and out of place.

The audience and critics agree: He’s All That scored a measly 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, with reviews stating it was “​​uninspired, inconsistent and uninteresting,” as well as “substandard, superficial, and utterly forgettable.”

Besides the fact that the cast consisted of all beautiful-looking people, there was little chemistry between them. There were many notable names, including Rae, a TikTok star, but the only true redemption is Rachel Leigh Cook, who played the part of the outcast turned prom queen in the original movie. It was exciting to see her back in the storyline, this time as Sayer’s mom, but her supporting cast didn’t help her out much.

Modern-day commentary

While the film may have fallen flat, the social commentary in He’s All That was adequate. 

Social media was a key aspect of the movie, reflecting its impact on everyday life. Social media controlled every aspect of Sawyer’s life — from the moment she woke up to when she went to bed, so much of her life was public, ultimately leading to her downfall. 

It wasn’t until she stepped away from the pressure of social media that she seemed truly happy. When she was with Kweller, she wasn’t concerned with what her “followers” thought, but she was able to experience joy in little things.

Perhaps there’s a message in there for modern-day teens — Technology has a strong draw, but maybe set it aside once in a while. Step out from behind the camera and experience life in real-time. 

But it takes a bit of digging to find that message in a film so crowded with forced acting and plot holes. The overall message is hidden also: “If they dutifully deliver the film’s platitudinous message — ‘be yourself’ — it’s with the conviction of a makeup brand selling a “natural look,” said the New York Times.

Overall, the film didn’t satisfy

If you’re looking for something to laugh at or turn your brain off to watch, this could be the movie for you. Otherwise, the cliché plot and poor casting lead to a film that is nothing new or exciting. It’s not worth ninety minutes of your time.

By Ellie Thompson, editor in chief, 2021-22

Hi! My name is Ellie and I am the editor in chief for The Mycenaean. I play soccer at NCFC and go to The Summit Church!

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