He’s All That: A Gender-Swapped She’s All That

(L to R) Tanner Buchanan as Cameron Kweller and Addison Rae as Padget Sawyer in He's All That. Photo credit: KEVIN ESTRADA/NETFLIX © 2021

He’s All That takes advantage of social media in this gender-swapped present-day remake of the 1999 high school comedy, She’s All That.

There’s a few beats here and there that repeat themselves in the remake. You could not make the remake without the dance-off though. Of course, the film works with the present day’s typical social media usage. Most of which is spent going live on Instagram and posting photos for what feels like every waking minute of the day. In many ways, this film serves to remind us that our society tends to document everything that happens. We’re probably due for a remake in another twenty years or so. Would it be a future where people decide to live without social media? Time will tell.

On the outside, social media influencer Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae) is living her best life. She has a pop star boyfriend and the two are quite the it couple. But when he’s caught cheating on a livestream, it marks the end of their relationship. Because the video goes viral, she loses her sponsorship and has to get back on her feet really quick. How else but make a bet with best friend Alden (Madison Pettis) that she can turn Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan) into a prom king. The same thing happens here that we saw back in 1999: Padgett starts falling for him and he becomes more than just a target of a bet.

Did She’s All That need a remake? Possibly especially because of how many 1990s movies didn’t age well. Depending on your point of view, it might fare better than some of the other high school comedies of its day. Many of them probably wouldn’t work in this post-#MeToo environment. Personally, I just can’t shake the misogyny from so many high school comedies. It’s there even if we don’t realize it from watching a countless number of times. In gender-swapping the target from women to men, you now have a woman trying to makeover a guy. She’s doing it in part because of a bet and also because of an embarrassing moment that led to dropping well over a hundred-thousand Instagram followers.

One advantage of making this film over twenty years later is the addition of LGBTQ characters. You certainly couldn’t get away with it in 1999. It also shows just how much society has changed. Obviously, the assholes still exist but it’s far easier to see ourselves be represented in a movie in 2021. Take it from me: if trans representation was better in the 1990s, I wouldn’t have been closeted for so darn long! But all this notwithstanding, the remake isn’t much better than the first film, unfortunately. There are some pieces in the film that stand out but sadly, this is about it.

While two cast members from the original make an appearance, this is not a reboot. Casting Rachael Leigh Cook is more fan service than anything else. Her character is a divorced nurse, which makes it harder to buy into her playing Addison Rae’s mom, Anna Sawyer. Matthew Lillard stars as Principal Bosch.

He’s All That probably won’t become a classic high school comedy in this era of having a gazillion things available to watch.

DIRECTOR: Mark Waters
SCREENWRITERS: R. Lee Fleming, Jr.
CAST: Addison Rae, Tanner Buchanan, Madison Pettis, with Matthew Lillard and Rachael Leigh Cook, Peyton Meyer, Isabella Crovetti, Myra Molloy, Annie Jacob

Netflix launches He’s All That on August 27, 2021.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.