She’s All That was released near the peak of teenage films of the late nineties and early oughts’. It does not have a literary basis like Clueless or any adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. Freddie Prinze Jr is at the peak of his fame and plays the smart, popular, good-looking, captain of the soccer team, Zack Siler. Opposite him is Rachel Leigh Cook, who plays Laney Boggs, an unpopular, art-loving loaner. Paul Walker, Matthew Lillard, Anna Paquin, Kieran Culkin, Usher, Lil’ Kim, Dulé Hill, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and more recognizable names are all in the cast.
I watched this film a few days after watching 2021 He’s All That. The films share a writer in R. Lee Fleming Jr. She’s All That is by far the better film. See my review of He’s All That for a discussion on why it is so terrible.
She’s All That has a famous makeover scene where Laney is transformed from an ugly art student by showering, wearing anything other than overalls, letting her hair down, and most famously, removing her glasses. Remember kids, nobody looks good with glasses…. I found that there was real chemistry between Zack and Laney. Perhaps he was thinking about Sarah Michelle Gellar, his wife since 2002, who was also in the film. Zack’s transformation was believable. He is an intelligent student near the top of his class with acceptance letters to most of the Ivies. It takes him some time to develop emotional intelligence, but he gets where he needs to go if not a little late.
She’s All That is very heteronormative, but not in the gross way lots of content from the 1990s was. Paul Walker is over the top machismo and just looking to sleep with as many girls as he can. He is destined to be the president of his college fraternity. I did not notice homophobic slurs. The wage gap between the wealthy kids at school and the poor kids is not as stark as in He’s All That. The film is of its time but doesn’t need excuses.
The message in the film is supposed to be about inner beauty, but the cast is filled with movie and TV stars, some of the most beautiful people on the planet. The only thing making Laney an outcast is a fact that she wears overalls and was woke twenty years too early. Her views on the climate and corporate greed would fit into any college campus today and may not go far enough for some parts of the woke crowd. The film should be enjoyed for the sake of being enjoyed and you should not read into it. Be pleasantly surprised as you recognize so many actors and actresses that you had forgot were in this film. We could all use a trip back to the 1990s sometimes and you can only watch Clueless so much.