He’s All That: An Hour and a Half Too Long

Parashar Bharadwaj, Staff Writer

Calling Mark Water’s film “He’s All That” mediocre would be far too generous. TikTok star Addison Rae’s acting debut is lackluster at its best. 

A remake of the 1999 hit film “She’s All That”, director Water’s Netflix Original Film follows high school senior Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae) on her mission to regain her social media fame. After being coined the “Bubble Girl” for a small bubble of mucus that sticks to her nose after crying on TikTok live, Padgett loses hundreds of thousands of followers on her makeup-centric TikTok, and her partnership with makeup brand Bunny Venom also comes to an end. She decides to redeem herself by promoting an unorthodox prom king, Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan), an outcast student in her high school. The rest of the movie details her experiences with Cameron and her reclaim to fame, as well as her transformation from an artificial people-pleaser to a genuine individual.

The movie does a few things well. With songs like “Carried Away” and “Mean Streets of Pali”, the soundtrack follows the bubbly, exaggerated score of most typical romantic comedies. The sets are impressive and vibrant with lavish parties and gorgeous high school dances. So what justifies the movie’s 30% Rotten Tomatoes score?

After its release on Aug. 27, the film received immediate flack for being unreasonable, sloppy and simply over-the-top. In one scene, Padgett hands out Car Wash flyers, but the next camera angle shows her passing out invisible sheets of paper, just making the motion of passing them out. The tacky paper-rustling sound effects do little to help. In another scene, Padgett’s mouth doesn’t move while speaking to another student, not to mention Padgett’s hand disappearing through a green screen during her karaoke rendition of the Katy Perry song “Teenage Dream”. Unfortunately the production quality isn’t even the worst part about the movie. 

Romantic comedies aren’t exactly known for deep, thought-provoking scripts, but good rom-coms often have an element of surprise—some sort of wow-factor that keeps the viewer engaged. “He’s All That” has none of that. The film has annoyingly predictable plot points and uses every cliche imaginable. It became so unnerving that I went into a perpetual cringe near the end of the movie.

On the topic of cringey, Water’s attempts to appeal to the younger generation is terribly overdone. The movie obsesses over social media platforms like TikTok, almost making them a determinant of Padgett’s self worth. A strong showing on apps like TikTok and Instagram becomes a constant theme in the movie, and despite attempts to limit their importance in Padgett’s prom queen speech, the film recklessly ingrains social media presence as a vital factor in determining one’s social status. Considering how much of the movie’s audience is young teens, the emphasis of social media stands as a terrible influence on kids who yearn to be popular and trendy. 

Rae unfortunately takes most of the blame, even though most of the glaring shortcomings aren’t her fault. On the acting side, Rae portrays Padgett decently. Although she struggles with depicting more delicate emotions like distress and relief, Rae does well to act the main aspects of the movie (or at least, better than I expected from a TikTok star famous for dancing). On the other hand, Buchanan does a stellar job of portraying Cameron, an antisocial, stuck up photography kid who opposes all typical aspects of the high school experience. Buchanan forces the persona a little at times but overall plays the subtlety of a reserved, outcasted high school student very well.

If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t watch this movie. It’s simply not worth the 90 minutes to watch a predictable plot with horrendous Gen-Z references. If you’re into high school classics like “Mean Girls” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, maybe give this movie a shot. But don’t be surprised if you pause halfway through and never watch the rest.