She's All That
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An irresistible cast of Hollywood's young faces star in this fun, sexy comedy hit about the power of attraction and the pressures of popularity! Stung when his bombshell girlfriend abruptly dumps him for a TV celebrity, big man on campus Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr., SCOOBY-DOO, BOYS AND GIRLS, DOWN TO YOU) wagers with a classmate he can quickly turn any girl -- even the school's biggest geek, Laney Boggs (Rachel Leigh Cook, TEXAS RANGERS, JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS) -- into the prom queen! He wasn't, however, betting on falling in love! After an amazing makeover, Laney is transformed from nobody to knockout ... but when she learns of Zack's deception, it could ruin any chance he had with his newfound dream girl! With a hip, modern soundtrack and a hilarious story that audiences loved, this great comedy is all that ... and more!
This charming update of Pygmalion (by way of the John Hughes oeuvre, most notably Pretty in Pink) rode the crest of the late-'90s wave of immensely popular teen films (Varsity Blues, etc.), thanks primarily to the immense charisma of its two leads, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook. When school star Zach (Prinze)--who's a jock, smart, and popular--gets dumped by vacuous Taylor (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe) after spring break, he's left dateless for the all-important prom. With a little goading from his less-than-sensitive best friend (hunky Paul Walker), he bets that he can make any girl into prom queen a mere eight weeks before the dance. The object of their wager: misfit Laney (Cook), a gawky art student too busy with her paintings and taking care of her brother and dad to worry about school politics. However, after a couple looks from Zach, and a few dates that reveal him to be a hunk of substance, Laney's armor begins to melt--and her stock at school soars. Soon enough, she's the lone candidate for prom queen against the bitchy and relentless Taylor.
What elevates She's All That above the realm of standard teen fare is its mixture of good-natured fairy-tale romance and surprisingly clear-eyed view of high school social strata. The lines of class are demarcated as clearly as if in a Jane Austen novel, but the satire is equally deflating and affectionate. Sure, high school could be bad sometimes, but it was lots of fun too; this is a movie good-natured enough to take time out for an extended hip-hop dance number at the prom. Director Robert Iscove (who also helmed the Brandy-starring TV adaptation of Cinderella) has also assembled a great young cast, including a scene-stealing Anna Paquin as Zach's no-nonsense sister, Kieran Culkin as Laney's geeky brother, and a stupidly goofy Matthew Lillard as a Real World cast member whose arrival shakes things up a little too much. And amidst all the comedy and prom drama, you'd be hard-pressed to find two teen stars as talented, attractive, and appealing as Prinze and Cook. Prinze is an approachable and sensitive jock, though it's Cook who's the true star, investing Laney with confidence, humor, and heart. Like Zach, you'll be hard-pressed not to fall in love with her. By the story's end, both Cook and the film will have charmed the socks off of you. --Mark Englehart
- Music video: "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer
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I LOVE the payback scene. AWE-SOME!!! Should have been more, but the true to fact that teens are actually like this has to be tucked away or it takes away from the outcome.
Have the DVD, watch on Prime all the time, just love it.
Spring break done, and Zach Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and his fellow students are looking forward to the remaining six weeks of schooling at Harrison High. Zach is rich and good-looking, is the class president, captain of the soccer team, most popular guy in school. He loses a bit of shine when his smoking hot girlfriend, the stunning but oh-so-hateful Taylor Vaughan (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), breaks up with him on account of her having hooked up with a reality television star while spring breaking in Daytona Beach.
Zach's feelings are stung, and this makes him vulnerable to his buddy's taunting. In one of those wagers in which you just know someone's gonna get hurt, Zach posits that he can take any girl in school and, in six weeks' time, make her prom queen. But he balks at the girl his pal finally picks out: Laney Boggs.
Laney (Rachel Leigh Cook) is mousy and sullen and unapproachable. She's a brooding artist whose art suffers because of her inability to open up. Sinking her even more in school clique status is that her dad (Kevin Pollak) is the neighborhood pool man. When Zach approaches her at the falafel fast food joint where she works (site of one of the film's funniest scenes), Laney assumes that he requires tutoring lessons, never mind that Zach has the school's fourth highest G.P.A. But our boy's nothing but persistent and she finally caves and agrees to hang out. They rendezvous at a performance art theater where we see Lanie on stage capering around with weird make-up caked on her face. And when she challenges Zach to go improv on stage and he does this telling bit with a hacky sack, that moment is when I got clued in that there's more to the guy than his big-jock-on-campus creds and living under the shadow of a demanding father.
The best thing about this movie is that it's not willing to settle for rolling out a by-the-numbers narrative. It's smart and has heart and is exuberant and is so much fun. The prom queen election and even Laney and Zach's relationship serve as a platform to observe the differences in class and social life style. It doesn't hurt that the exploration leads to many very funny moments and plenty of snappy zingers. Prinze Jr. and Cook have incredible chemistry, but I also appreciate the presence of Kevin Pollak who is warm and steady as Laney's father and hilarious in an unobstrusive way. One of the film's showcase scenes involves him at home absent-mindedly hurling wrong answers at Jeopardy even as the JV soccer team does housekeeping around him. He finally looks up and says: "Who are you people?" She's All That was an unexpected surprise when it came out in 1999. It features a grip of supporting actors that are very recognizable today (Paul Walker, Anna Paquin, Usher, Matthew Lillard, etc.). It also vindicates my aversion of the pizzas in my old high school cafeteria.