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SHE'S ALL THAT
Classic Movie Review

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SHE'S ALL THAT, 1999
Classic Movie Review
Directed by Robert Iscove
Starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook, Kevin Pollack, Paul Walker, and Anna Paquin
Review by Elizabeth Cooper



SYNOPSIS:

After getting dumped by his girlfriend, popular jock Zack bets his friends that he can turn any girl into the next prom queen. But, things go a little wry, when he starts falling for art geek Laney Boggs.

REVIEW:

Unlike other teen makeover flicks like Never Been Kissed and A Cinderella Story, She's All That aims at being a more cerebral choice in that genre. The film was the first major attempt by an independent studio to create a mainstream romantic hit. Miramax Studios, known for independent hits like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, updates the My Fair Lady plot for a modern, teen audience. But, don’t let the “independent” studio logo fool you; She’s All That is the typical, high school, geek-gets-makeover flick. But, because it’s suppose to be “modern” and “indie,” the high school students hang out at performance art houses.

BMOC (Big Man on Campus) Zach Siler (Prinze) gets dumped by the most popular girl in school (O’Keefe), just one month shy of the prom. For any other guy, this would be a problem, but Zach is so confident that he can turn any girl into the next prom queen, that his friend Dean (Walker) bets him to do it. Enter Laney Boggs (Cook) as the Eliza Doolittle character, destined for a makeover. Laney comes from the “wrong side of the tracks” but in this case, that just means that her father owns his own pool cleaning business. Laney spends her time painting in her basement, working at a Falafel restaurant, and spouting world news statistics on famine and war.

Since Laney isn’t the typical type of girl Zach dates, he asks his sister (Paquin) to give him tips on wooing her. To Laney's credit, she does resist Zach's charm for a few brief scenes, but eventually, she goes out with him. For once, it would be interesting to see a film where the geek girl doesn't want to be popular, or prom queen, but that would be too close to reality.

In high school terms, Laney would be voted Best Artist or Most Bitchy. But, definitely not Most Unattractive. . For girls watching looking for makeover ideas, this isn't the film to watch to get beauty and fashion ideas. Laney's transforms from outcast to prom queen in traditional Clark Kent/Superman style; remove the glasses, change the hair, put on something tight, and Voilla, a hottie is born! After Laney's makeover, she suddenly becomes a frontrunner for prom queen, and Zach realizes that he is falling for her.

Although Prinze and Cook previously co-starred in the independent black comedy The House of Yes (which was also distributed by Miramax), She’s All That is the first time the two have shared a scene together. That may account for the lack of romantic chemistry between the two, who seem more like best friends than a couple. Prinze and Cook are both likeable on camera but you don’t find yourself rooting for the two to get together at the end of the movie.

The film is admirable in its attempt to create characters that aren't one-dimensional. Laney has trouble letting herself be open to others, while Zach fears life after high school. While the intent is there to create flawed protagonists, Prinze and Cook remain flat for these personal scenes.

The supporting cast is stereotypically correct: Zach’s ex-girlfriend is played by the drop dead gorgeous Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, who looks far too mature in the film to be playing a high school senior. Paul Walker plays Zach’s popular guy friend in a role that has come to define Walker as an actor and limit him to All American Boy typecast. Kieran Culkin and Anna Paquin make appearances as the younger siblings in the film,

bringing life and originally to the supporting roles. The addition of Culkin and Paquin to the cast further separate the film from similar teen flicks in the genre. Matthew Lilliard brings some much-needed mindless comedy to the film by playing the older, reality TV obsessed Brock. Kevin Pollack, Gabrielle Union, and Usher Raymond also make appearances in the film. Overall, the acting performances in She’s All That reminds me of being at the prom and hanging out with the kids whose parents made them go; they’re not happy being at prom, but they begrudgingly dance and go through the motions. Director Robert Iscove has a long career in directing but most of his work has been television. After She’s All That, he went onto director the American Idol bomb From Justin to Kelly and the forgettable Boys and Girls, also with Prinze. With a predictable script, the direction and acting needs to be strong in order to grab the viewers’ attention and make them ultimately care about the characters. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen with this movie. Overall, the film feels more like a high-end Disney Channel movie, rather than a full-length film, with most of the scenes feeling overly contrived. The film feels like a forced effort to be indie and cool. The characters in an effort to be hip, they spout words like “wiggage” and “buggin.” The laughable dialogue almost makes you respect the overly articulate, SAT vocabulary world of Dawson’s Creek.

She’s All That definitely has some cute moments. It’s slumber party material at its best. Keep it around like a carton of Ben and Jerry’s. Just don’t over-indulge.

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