Mark Waters He’s All That is a remake of an American teen movie with a source material from a British movie which came from a British play and so on and so forth. This time around, the Henry Higgins stand in is Padgett (Addison Rae). She’s an influencer and a makeover specialist who lost a sponsorship. That’s because her last makeover project, Jordan van Draanen (Petyon Meyer), cheated on her with a backup dancer. While lamenting the very public breakup that happened on a live stream, she makes a bet with a friend, Alden (Madison Pettis), that she can do it again.
Jordan keeps showing up on the partiers Padgett attends. Him showing up takes the wind out of her sails, humiliating her both during those parties and the live streams. But fortunately for her, her new project, some grungy boy named Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan), is a sentient being who feels sorry for her. He defends her, and his way of doing that is to participate in her choreographed viral moments. The movie’s ‘tension,’ then, rests on how long she can keep the secret that he started out as a bet to her.
Viewers might remember Buchanan from Cobra Kai and he’s not putting his best work here. It’s also too bad that he has to share scenes with Rae, who can’t display or even fake any emotions towards him. We might blame this on age, but I’m sure there’s someone in Hollywood who can pretend to like a white boy after he washes his face.
One of the reasons people watch romcoms is because of compelling or passable romances. He’s All That already failed on that, but it feels like it’s failing on other aspects on purpose. Specifically, the movie’s B-plot is that Padgett influencer lifestyle is a front. She’s hiding the fact that she lives in a working class neighborhood. Alden tries to expose her on this, which, as an actual poor person, feels more insulting than it is threatening.
Like, who cares if Alden exposes Padgett for being poor? She prioritizes her sponsorships and her college funds more than she does her friends and family. Maybe it’s an indication of the times, since the real world is poorer than people would like to admit. But her priorities, or at least R. Lee Fleming’s script’s version of it, doesn’t make her sympathetic nor compelling. Lastly, Matthew Lillard plays the school’s beleaguered principal, and he deserves better than the movie’s X-er bait.