She’s All That (1999) — You’re only pretty if you take your glasses off

“What is this, some sort of dork outreach program?”

Kyle’s rating: Rachel Leigh Cook-icious!

Kyle’s review: Teen romantic comedies are not going to change the world, so don’t watch one expecting enlightenment or spiritual guidance. Idiots looking for cinematic brilliance are the reason great movies like this get critically panned, because they believe anything coherent that happy well-adjusted people would like simply can’t be good. Damn those idiots!

I referred to She’s All That as a great movie because, while it is just teen fluff full of clichés we’ve seen in countless films before, it has plenty of charm and humor to endear it to you. The two leads, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachel Leigh Cook, are especially good and you’ll have no problem rooting for them to end up together, unless (like me!) you would prefer Cook to end up with uh, yourself!

And there are a lot of witty one-liners and high school social satire to keep you amused, even as you find the predictability level at 100%. Kevin Pollack as Cook single father and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe as Prinze’s traitorous ex-girlfriend stand out from the fine supporting cast, and if you aren’t tired of Scream’s Matthew Lillard yet he’s mildly amusing as roommate-from-hell on MTV’s Real Word.

Don’t tell me you want a plot recap! Fine, here’s a brief one: Guy makes bet to get girl, guy and girl banter back and forth with various intensity, guy slowly falls in love with girl and the feeling is mutual. Will the guy end up with the girl he really wants? How does the girl feel about all of this? Will the truth about the bet come out? Will the girl use her latent psychokinesis abilities to trash the school and kill al her tormentors? You’ll see when you rent this movie, Jim.

And rent it you should, if you’re in the mood for a pleasant and smart teen love story where you can see the ending coming a mile away, but you don’t mind being amused while you end towards it. And in case you think this film has nothing of value to offer, here are the two important morals I got from it: don’t let anyone else decide love or your life for you, and Rachel Leigh Cook looks much better with shorter hair and plucked eyebrows. And that’s advice we can all use!

Justin’s rating: But is she, though?

Justin’s review: I really wonder what girls think when they see movies like this. Sure, on the surface it’s a cutsie ugly duckling-turned-princess story with an utterly unneccessary dance number. But anyone with a brain can quickly deduce that movies like She’s All That promote the same-old high school stereotypes and the same themes that have been done thousands of times before.

Plus, this movie wins Justin’s “Most Atrocious Use Of Sideburns” award (Freddy Prinze Jr).

Don’t get me wrong — I really liked this film the first time I saw it. But there was always something sinister that lurked in the corner of my consciousness. What was that something? Well, let’s look at the story. We have ultra-preppy nice guy class president Zach (anyone else having Saved By The Bell flashbacks?) who has his perfect life marred when his ultra-preppy walking bout of PMS girlfriend dumps him. Which, to his horror, happens prior to the prom. And if you’ve seen any teen movies since 1960, you’d know that the prom is the center of the social universe, what makes or breaks a person’s coolness.

Through peer pressure and a lack of a spine, Zach gets lured into betting that he can take the dorkiest girl in school to the prom and get crowned King and Queen.

Now, if this movie had any originality, this bet girl would be seriously ugly. But since this takes place in the Dawson-Buffy-Felicity-Party of Five Universe, the worst the filmmakers could come up with was Rachel Leigh Cook. You might remember her from a weirdly sexy “This is your brain on heroin” commercial. The only way that the filmmakers could think of disguising her natural beauty was [checks] glasses and a love of art. Yup, the hoary staples of nerddom. This premise is so flimsy that the only way you can accept it is to say that perfection cannot include the slightest bit of abnormality.

“Do you always wear those glasses?” Zach says. “Do you ever think about contacts?” ACK! ACK! ACK!

I felt for Laney (Cook) through the movie, not because I was rooting for her to be popular or fall in love, but because she seems like the only decent person in the DBFPo5 Universe. Freddy never shows any outstanding qualities (other than a scene with a hackey sack that makes us say “hey! art is just made-up stuff!”) that would make him worthy of her. In fact, I started to intensely hate him is when they’re at a party in the middle of the movie. Laney gets publicly humiliated — and Zach just stands by. Doesn’t even stick up for her (this is a constant theme, unchanged by the end)! Instead he waits until she leaves the party in tears to go up to her in the private parking lot to comfort her. Jerk Alert, I say.

Gee… what else to hate about She’s All That? I did mention stereotypes before. How about making fun of the one fat person in the movie? How about saying that makeovers are the only way to change your reputation for the best? And don’t even get me started on the rich-vs-poor theme that this movie briefly flirts with, but leaves abandoned (in this universe, even the poor have a backyard pool!).

It’s a shame, because She’s All That is peppered with some great ideas and smart moments. Kevin Pollack gets large amounts of points in my book for portraying a goofy, out-of-it, and lovable dad. Whether you hate Matthew Lillard or not, it’s fun to see him as an ex-member of MTVs “Real World.” They throw in some quick jabs to this supposed real-life show that is funny, but not, since the movie’s just as fake in the same ways. Finally, there is no denying that Cook is really cute with a down-to-earth attitude that is deserving of its own 24-hour network. To bad they whittle away her edginess and originality by the end of the film.

At the very least, we can thank this movie for spawning an on-the-nose parody with Not Another Teen Movie.

Clare’s rating: Vomitous mess makes me want to vomit messily

Clare’s review: I know this movie is just a throw away teen romantic comedy used to showcase young, hip actors blah blah blah and I shouldn’t take it too much to heart, but I was pissed when I got done with this one.

Problem #1: I don’t care how cute they are, guys who make bets with their friends about being able to effectively manipulate the women around them do NOT make good boyfriends — they make good date rapists.

Problem #2: Why is it that Hollywood casting agents think they can get away with portraying a woman as ugly by casting someone with brown hair and slapping a pair of glasses on her? What reality do they live in? How stupid do they think we are?

Problem #3: Why is it that in movie land any girl character who is talented, self sufficient and not 100% boy crazy is automatically given the crown of being “weird” or unattractive? (see my review of The Breakfast Club) but any boy character in movie land who is talented, self-sufficient and interested in anything other than women is considered the lead character in most every movie I’ve ever seen?

Problem #4: When did “feeling like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman only without that whole hooker thing” become something to aspire to? Did I miss a meeting or something?

Problem #5: Mathew Lillard is an annoying dingus in every movie I’ve ever seen him in and his “acting” presence wears thin right off the bat in this one.

I’m done now.

If you enjoy having your intelligence insulted and find having outdated sex role stereotypes crammed down your throat in the name of entertainment to be an enjoyable evening, please go to your local Blockbuster and rent this doozy of a stink pile.

Didja notice?

  • In an effort to get every little detail down pat, Kevin Pollack has the correct suntan that a pool man would have
  • If you’re popular, it’s enough just to ask to someone. It doesn’t matter if you know what their name is
  • Whoa! It’s Sarah Michelle Gellar in a split-second non-speaking role! She’s All That and Buffy were shot on the same CA school campus, hence the crossover
  • What is Hewlett-Packard?

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