‘He’s All That’ Proves Addison Rae and Kourtney Kardashian Can’t Act
The gender-swapped reboot of beloved ’90s romcom “She’s All That” not only tried to shut down a COVID testing site to film but is yet another stale remake.
He’s All That, Netflix’s gender-swapped reboot of ’90s romcom She’s All That, is a movie about how anyone can be an actor now, regardless of one’s (lack of) qualifications or talent for the craft. It’s also a groan-inducing addition to the ever-growing list of needless remakes to come out in the past couple of years.
Featuring TikTok star Addison Rae in her film debut, the movie is actually about a beautiful, popular teen influencer who makes a bet with her friends that she can makeover a “loser” of their choice and get him elected prom king. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s because it is the exact same shallow premise of the 1999 film, only with Instagram.
It’s true that the original Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachel Leigh Cook version of this story has always been problematic and rife with sexism, while simultaneously enjoying a reputation as a beloved installment in the ’90s teen romcom canon. That said, it has been 22 years and simply switching the genders of the protagonists—this time it’s an unpopular (but of course still conventionally attractive) boy who gets a haircut and is discovered to have been totally hot all along—is not enough to warrant a remake of a classic but dated film. It is also worth noting that the acting is much better in the original, M. Night Shyamalan (!) punched up the script, and we have She’s All That to thank for introducing many of us to the instantly iconic “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer.
In He’s All That, Rae plays Padgett Sawyer, a high school senior with a seemingly perfect life. She wakes up every day, applies a full face of makeup, and then gets back in bed to livestream herself pretending to wake up, lest her hundreds of thousands of followers see her without fake eyelashes.
But the illusion is quickly shattered. Padgett is publicly humiliated when she livestreams herself surprising her famous boyfriend, Jordan V (played by Peyton Meyer), on the set of his music video, only to find him cheating with a backup dancer. Upon discovering him in this compromising position, she starts pelting him with creampuffs from the croquembouche she inexplicably brought, calling him a “croquemdouche.” This tells you everything you need to know about the humor in the film.
I could write 800 words on this scene alone, which, occurring at the very beginning of the movie, does not exactly inspire hope for Rae’s performance in the hour and a half yet to come. She does deliver an unintentionally hilarious line reading later on when her love interest explains that his dead mother gave him his treasured camera and she says, “So… that’s why you love it so much?” knitting her eyebrows together with such comical intensity that it looks like she is trying to solve a complex mathematical equation.
After the croquemdouche incident costs Padgett her sponsorship and tons of followers, she is desperate to regain her popularity. This is when she enters into the infamous bet with her friend Alden, played by Madison Pettis. For Padgett’s unwitting victim, Alden selects Cameron Kweller (Cobra Kai’s Tanner Buchanan), a caricature of a 2012 Urban Outfitters-dwelling hipster.
Much like the original film, in which glasses and baggy overalls are supposed to convince us that the gorgeous Rachel Leigh Cook is unattractive to her peers, Buchanan has the obvious good looks and chiseled bone structure of a male model. What makes him a hopeless loser, apparently, are his long hair, his taste for photography and flannels, and his propensity for saying things like, “I am a fountain of truth in a world of bullshit.” In other words, he would have been the hottest guy in school when I was a teenager.
Everything that ensues as the mean-spirited bet plays out is entirely boring, cheesy, and predictable. Despite his pretentious cynicism and disdain for his superficial classmates, Cameron is immediately dazzled on day two of the bet by Padgett’s karaoke performance of “Teenage Dream.” Padgett is consistently horrible—this bet is really so mean!—but we are meant to sympathize with her anyway because she needs to get her sponsorship back if she wants to go to college.
Behind the scenes, He’s All That has been courting controversy since it was announced. In November of last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that a shoot for the film at Union Station resulted in the shutdown of a major COVID-19 testing center, forcing 504 people with appointments to get their tests elsewhere. Though Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti promptly shifted into damage control mode and tweeted that they would be reopening the testing center at Union Station, it was an undeniably bad look to prioritize a TikTok celebrity’s film shoot in the midst of a devastating pandemic.
One of the only positive things to come out of the reboot is an unexpectedly generous Kourtney Kardashian acting cameo. The eldest Kardashian is, somewhat curiously, close friends with the 20-year-old TikToker. The two met through Kardashian’s 11-year-old son, Mason, who is a big fan of Rae’s, and the latter has since appeared on multiple episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Kardashian plays Jessica Miles Torres, the fake-friendly yet ruthless brand representative for Padgett’s sponsor, Bunny Venom. She ends every phone call with a hollow, “Love ya!” even when she is dropping Padgett from the company’s docket. It’s cleverly amusing, and no doubt intentional, to see Kardashian playing someone on the other side of the influencer economy that she and her sisters essentially dominate.
What’s more amusing, however, is watching her try to act. If there was ever any question as to whether or not Keeping Up with the Kardashians is truly unscripted, Kourt’s handful of scenes in this film should clear them up. Her vocal-fry-inflected monotone that Kardashian fans know and love, perfect for delivering deadpan insults like, “Kim, there’s people that are dying,” is simply not meant to land corny Netflix jokes. But she seems to be having fun nonetheless, and it is certainly fun to watch her try.