He’s All That review – Netflix’s boring teen TikTok remake lacks charm | Romance movies
For the majority of people too young to remember She’s All That premiered in 1999, the main draw of He’s All That, Netflix’s remake of the teen classic, is its cast of TikTok star Addison Rae. In July 2019, 18-year-old Rae, named Addison Rae Easterling, went from a freshman at Louisiana State University to one of the most recognizable faces of Gen Z overnight when she started. to post short dance clips on TikTok.
Now 20, Rae has become the face of forces beyond her control: the popularization of dance moves without choreographic credit, the unfathomable fame accumulated by average dancing with expressive faces, and most notably the blandness of ” straight TikTok ”or, as Rebecca Jennings put it Vox, “Pretty people filming themselves being pretty” for an algorithm that rewards mediocrity.
Rae is therefore a star of choice for another undercooked teenage intellectual property reboot – like the TikTokers appealing to everyone’s average tastes median, He’s All That, directed by Mark Waters from a script by R Lee Fleming Jr, is uninspiring, trying very hard to sound breezy, probably popular in the sense of cultural saturation but not deeply appealing to anyone.
To be clear, I don’t blame Rae, who seems to be genuinely trying her first onscreen role as Padgett Sawyer aka @PadgettHeadtoToe, a high school student and influencer. Unlike Freddie Prinze Jr’s privileged golden boy, Zachary Siler, Padgett hides her middle-income roots (her mother, played by original star Rachael Leigh Cook, is a nurse) behind a facade of glamor – she’s lying to her friends. about his address; it is perpetually, often odiously “on”.
The 90-minute film’s beats mirror the original: Within minutes, Padgett discovered her boyfriend, a bleach-haired budding viral music star named Jordan Van Draanen (Peyton Meyer), cheating, made so that his live humiliation went viral for a particularly unflattering photo of a tearful snot bubble, lost his sponsorships and bet his reintegration into the makeover of a failed guy of his choice, his brother Alden ( Madison Pettis). The Conditions: Turn Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan), a cynical outcast with a shaggy haircut, beanie, and passion for photography and horses, into a prom king in six weeks or be called a loser, or something. kind.
Although Fleming’s script plays like a grown-up man’s approximation of Gen Z tropes (“put down your TikToks and you can see some real dancing !, at least it doesn’t drag on. It’s all happening quickly.” through a slideshow of reconstructed scenes with slight features from 2021: Gatsby-themed party scene, Rae buddy Kourtney Kardashian’s cameo as a funny and ruthless brand manager, the ever-present stress of followers counts.
There are a few welcome updates to the original: While Zach pointed out that he can’t choose between a handful of other elite schools (horror!), Padgett worries more realistically. to be able to pay for his studies without his (dark) branded offers. Cam and Laney from the original lost their mothers, but the remake digs a little deeper into the lasting damage of that heartbreak via Cam’s seething younger sister, Brin (Isabella Crovetti, the strongest young actress here).
Other choices are doing less well. The original’s prom choreography – Usher leading a dance to Fatboy Slim’s Rockafeller Skank – gets TikTokified (torso heavy dance moves) to an indescribable hip-hop song that’s nowhere near as catchy. Fashion is confusing – it’s hard to imagine Rae, whose Gen Z popularity is predicated on recognizing and adapting hyper-transient trends, wearing one of the sweater dresses or cardigans she wears in the film.
He’s all that gets points for not being too much faithful – the update thankfully avoids some of the original’s more glaring flaws, namely: female objectification, fatphobia and, most blatantly, sexual harassment of Laney by bastard Dean (Paul Walker) for fun.
But the censorship goes too far; as the teens in the original smoked, drank, vomited, kissed, and slept together, He’s All That features a high school where students drink fancy mocktails, barely kiss, and avoid swearing. Maybe it’s for the best that there’s no pubic pizza here, but the obvious avoidance of anything remotely racy makes the film feel sterile and weird.
It’s really the same feeling as watching a bunch of straight TikToks. While Rae offers flashes of promise, especially when she flaunts her genuinely winning smile, she’s not here arguing for TikTok stardom in the movies. The chemistry between her and Buchanan is stilted at best. But it would be unfair to put the monotony of the film on its shoulders. She’s one of the many algorithmic hit parts of this nostalgia bait, a recipe that isn’t a charm.