It’s verging on heroic that they managed to mold a coherent plot around the more than 15 unique and conspicuous product placements in the movie He’s All That. Well, maybe heroic isn’t the best word for it. Appalling is perhaps a better term. A lot has been made about how He’s All That is a remake of the 1999 classic She’s All That. It’s even written and directed by the same people, and thank goodness for that because the entertainment industry is really lacking in opportunities for white men over the age of fifty. I love the way people speak so breathlessly about the remake, as if a plot centered around some popular person making a bet that they can makeover a person considered less attractive and less popular is A) an original idea that somehow makes these two movies stand out from the slew of other movies with slight variations on this theme; and B) isn’t a disgusting premise for a movie no matter which way you flip flop the genders or update the cultural touchstones. Anyway, I’m not even sure that it needs to be said, but this movie is not good and your eyeballs most certainly deserve better entertainment.
High school senior Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae) live streams her well-lit and carefully staged life on @padgettheadtotoe where she talks about makeovers and self-improvement. Obviously, she’s ALL about what’s on the inside counting, BUT of course she still believes that in order to make a good impression you’ve got to look slamming on the outside, so she’s going to spend hours teaching everyone how to look almost as good as she does. A few quick things. One: I find her finger nails very unsettling.
Two: possibly the most meaningful moment in the entire movie is when she steps out of her incredibly pink, shiny, and perfectly staged bedroom into her home’s drab laundry room. It’s like when Allison in Kevin Can F**k Himself leaves the sitcom set. It’s almost profound, but then the rest of the movie happens.
Three: If we’re told why her name is Padgett I most certainly missed it, but I keep picturing a pangolin. Four: Addison Rae is a TikTok star—thank goodness she got a boost by starring in this movie because young, attractive, already famous white women are also really starved for roles in Hollywood—and she is clearly most in her wheelhouse during the scenes when she’s pretending to live stream. The scenes that require her to act do not go as well. (I’m trying to be polite. They’re pretty terrible, but she’s clearly trying.) Anyway, Padgett, contrary to what her live stream would have you believe, is not part of the upper class. She lives with her single mom (Rachel Leigh Cook, who was in She’s All That, but her role in this movie is entirely unrelated), who works as a nurse, in a modest house. Padgett’s sponsorship from Bunny Venom (the only fictional brand in the movie) helps to build her college fund and also helps to pay her mom’s bills. Every day she runs through backyards and alleys so she can keep up the charade to her well-off friends Alden (Madison Pettis) and Quinn (Myra Molloy) that she lives in the swanky apartment building where they pick her up for school every day. Have they never been over to her house? Like, ever? Are people really your friends if you can’t let them see where you live?
On the morning we meet her, Padgett and her friends are headed to bring a tower of homemade croquembouches to her boyfriend Jordan Van Draanen (Peyton Meyer) on the set of his music video—all this is live streamed, of course. But Jordan is busy, erm, rehearsing something else with Aniston (Vanessa Dubasso), which causes Padgett to completely lose her shit in a most off-brand way while her “friend” Alden is still streaming everything to Padgett’s many followers. In no time she goes from everyone’s favorite makeover girl to a hated viral meme girl.
She loses her sponsorship from Bunny Venom and we have to suffer through Kourtney Kardashian’s first appearance. To be fair, having previously seen clips of, sorry, I mean, klips of Kourtney Kardashian, I believe Kourtney Kardashian is giving an extremely natural and method performance. Sadly, Kourtney’s natural has about as much emotional range as a packet of generic brand unflavored instant oatmeal. After Padgett’s mother tries to comfort her with a single serve container of [BRAND NAME REDACTED] cereal, Padgett goes to school where she discusses the situation over some [BRAND NAME REDACTED] bottles of water with Quinn and Alden. They just can’t believe that Jordan’s follower numbers are going up, especially given that it was Padgett that made him over from a scrawny, poorly dressed nothing to his current incarnation, which I guess is supposed to be attractive, but to my eyes he appears to be an absolute trash bag of a human being. Handsome is as handsome does, and all that. Also, what true romance to woo your boyfriend by recreating him in your ideal image. Having done it once and seemingly learned absolutely nothing about morals or ethics from the experience, she decides she can do it again, but this time it’ll be under the auspices of a bet, Alden and Quinn will pick the guy, and it will have a hard deadline of the prom where he’ll have to be voted king. Sure, why not triple down on an awful life decision?
Who do they pick but Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan), a rebel who takes black and white photos that he doesn’t show anyone, with an actual film camera. Do you get the contrast? Padgett shares her photos and video instantaneously with hundreds of thousands of strangers and Cameron won’t even show his photographs, which he develops himself, to his grandmother. He (gasp) has no social media presence. Padgett calls him “weird, arrogant, and antisocial.” Padgett is a terrible judge of character. Seriously, horrendous. He and his best friend Nisha (Annie Jacob) dress in a kind of grunge-style and call Jordan and his goons fascists. They are much better judges of character. Nisha almost gets to be charming, but then she’s saddled with lines like, “Eating free [BRAND NAME REDACTED] is what we’re doing.” Or, “Can I take this [BRAND NAME REDACTED] with me?” And, “Dude, you cleaned out all the [BRAND NAME REDACTED] chips.” All of which are just incredibly painful to hear and rob her character of any real chance to be an actual person.
Padgett inserts herself into Cameron’s life by showing up at the stables where he works before school and helps him muck out stalls. She is not good at this, and at one point ends up throwing horse poop at him as a joke? “It’s mostly grass,” she says as she laughs. Uh, sure. This is a new courting ritual. I don’t understand why anyone thought it was a good idea to keep it through the final edit. Why not throw hay? It’s cute. It gets stuck in people’s hair and then it affords a tender moment for someone else to gently remove it. Then again, getting covered in horse shit is very emblematic of this movie overall, and perhaps someone was slyly trying to allude to that?
Of course, there are the usual things we would expect in a movie such as this: parties where Cameron is a fish out of water, unexpected talents, touching(ish) moments, a trying on clothing montage, a makeover, conversations where common ground is found, attraction, repulsion, awakenings, smoochings, and endings. There’s a big fight between two guys to protect a girl’s honor even though she’s just done a fine job of protecting herself, and a choreographed dance off that it’s unclear if anyone wins (we the viewers are most certainly the losers). At some point Cameron tries to make the point that Padgett should wear less makeup and I may have popped a blood vessel in the rolling of my eyes because men do not need to have a say in how women choose to decorate their faces. Very little of anything that happens is actually compelling to watch. There are egregious product placements about every thirty seconds.
The take away from these movies is always supposed to be something about how the more popular person learns the importance of being yourself and not caring so much about what other people think. But that shift only takes place after the less popular person goes through the physical makeover transformation from geek to on fleek, which completely undermines the first message. It’s telling us that you can be yourself and opinions don’t matter as long as you’re within the confines of what the status quo considers attractive and cool, only then can you get up on a stage and make an impassioned speech about being yourself and be cheered by all your peers. Which makes the entire thing pretty fucking meaningless. Or worse than meaningless— which would actually be pretty fine for an airy 90-minute rom-com—it’s insidious and undermining.
You know what I can’t stop imagining? The teeteringly tall pile of scripts from young, earnest, talented writers that got passed over, shoved to the side, and generally ignored so that this schlock—which is pinned together with nostalgia, product placements, and TikTok notoriety—could be made. Not just made, but remade. Ugh. Now that’s some wholly unromantic horse shit. Watch at your own risk.