I Watched He’s All That and I Have Thoughts

source: Netflix

by Shreya

Everyone is probably aware that the mass fame of tiktokers (the D’Amelio sisters), has begun to bleed over into other mediums. Just recently, the two sisters announced a docuseries on their lives, The D’Amelio Show, airing on Hulu. And perhaps the latest example, and the most surprising: the Netflix spinoff of She’s All That, titled He’s All That, starring Tiktok’s very own: Addison Rae. Aside from the obvious clickbait-nature of including that mildly problematic, white, untalented girl in a major Netflix film, everyone knew that the masses were going to flock and that I would likely be one of them. 

via Netflix

The movie is a modern, gender-swapped take on She’s All That (1999) , one of the most popular late ‘90s films. She’s All That follows a popular high school guy  (Zack) who is dumped by his girlfriend (Taylor), and then makes a bet that he can turn any girl into their prom queen. Naturally, his “friend” (Dean) selects one of the most unpopular and isolated girls (Laney). Laney initially reject’s Zack’s advances but the two eventually get to know each other and start falling for each other, along with Laney acquiring new popularity in their school, and being nominated for prom queen. Inevitably, Laney finds out about the bet and is humiliated, and Taylor ends up winning prom queen. The two eventually make up at the end of prom night and get together; the movie ends in a humorous way with Zack honoring the terms of the bet and appearing naked on their school’s stage.

 Similarly, He’s All That follows a tiktoker famous for makeovers (Padgett) and how after discovering her famous boyfriend cheating on her, is given the challenge to makeover another, you guessed it, incredibly unpopular and weird guy (Cameron). However, it is not just Padgett’s reputation that is on the line like Zack’s, it is her career; in the wake of her very public breakup, she has lost her brand sponsorship and hundreds of thousands of followers due to the bad publicity. Right off the bat, and similarly to most Netflix teen movies, this one is practically DROWNING in plot lines. Padgett has so much going on it is a wonder that she hasn’t completely exploded due to emotional overhaul. Firstly, she has a single mother who is incredibly overworked and Padgett helps with the bills. Not only that, Padgett is ashamed of her background so she lies to everyone about where she lives. Padgett somehow also managed to turn her ex-boyfriend (Jordan) into some sort of a pop star. The details of this plot line are non-existent at best but provide the background for her talent of making over people. As you can see, I could go on and on about how the foundation of this movie is being held together by haphazardly placed duct tape. 

The real injustice, however, is that Addison’s character is so completely devoid of any character development that it completely cancels out the entire purpose of the movie. From the start, she is presented as some sort of angelic character. This altruistic girl who manages to balance a complicated life, pays bills for her mom and her college tuition. But unfortunately, there is nothing about Padgett that makes her incredibly great, and her likability drops as she makes the bet to make another guy into prom king. Her character is painfully reminiscent of another modern and infamously unlikable protagonist: Emily from Emily in Paris. Don’t get me wrong, a flawed or unlikable protagonist is generally preferable to one that is seemingly infallible. The problem arises, when it is clear that the protagonist is presented like they are supposed to be liked. It is quite clear that Padgett bases her self worth upon her social media “numbers” and the brand deal that she has, past the surface she is incredibly insecure. 

In She’s All That, it is quite clear that Zack isn’t really meant to be liked from the start. His only motivation for making the bet in the first place is to save his ego from being broken up with; his character development comes later as he and Laney start to see each other in a new light. The whole premise for She’s All That is that Zack makes over Laney on the outside, while she does it to him on the inside. However, there is no real internal makeover for Addison, even though she does end up ignoring a call from Jessica (Kourtney Kardashian), her brand deal manager. She is still an influencer at the end of the movie, her big speech is even live-streamed. Furthermore, there was no real confession that Padgett was lying about where she lived, since her friends knew all along anyway. There is no real weight in admitting you lied about where you lived to a bunch of people who didn’t really care. 

via IMDB

The movie might have been able to be saved, if there was a nice arc in how the two main characters fell for each other…one can only hope. In the first half, Padgett manufactures situations for the two to spend time together, infringing on Cameron’s privacy and blatantly ignoring any social cues that he is uncomfortable with her. Post-makeover, the two share a moment in Cameron’s photography dark room, but then things become incredibly awkward. This movie is truly just a love story between Padgett and Brin, Cameron’s sister, and the only person who seems to think that Padgett is worth spending time with.

Of course, Addison isn’t solely to be blamed for the subpar quality of He’s All That. There is a whole team who worked on the script, and then casting. All jokes aside, in today’s world, it is inevitable that Tiktokers will be taking over other mediums. It is the correct marketing move for most of them big enough to make the transition, since platforms like TikTok are almost as unstable as the plot in He’s All That. It is easy to blow up, as we’ve seen, so it is logical that “dying” or becoming irrelevant is also fairly easy. Maybe one day, one of them will be able to surprise the masses and make the transition to actor, or singer.

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