He’s All That Fixes A Few Of The Original’s Issues — But Not All Of Them

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Spoilers are ahead. One of the most memorable scenes in teen rom-com history is Rachael Leigh Cook as Laney Boggs walking down a staircase in a red dress in She's All That. She reveals herself to Freddie Prinze Jr.'s Zack Siler, who is both proud of himself for turning an outcast classmate into a popular girl simply by removing her glasses and convincing her to wear a new outfit and for starting to fall in love with her. So, while the 1999 movie has some problematic moments, the new remake He's All That still has a lot to live up to when it comes to teen movie history. No one's forgotten that moment.
It'll be up to viewers — many of whom even born when the original came out — to decide how they feel about the new movie out now that it's on Netflix. But for anyone wondering how the two compare solely in the makeover/love story they tell — not in quality — you've come to the right place. While He's All That is very similar to She's All That, there is an added aspect that changes everything: social media.
First, here's what happens in the original She's All That.
The basic premise of She's All That and He's All That is the same: A popular student has to turn an unpopular student into the prom queen or king as part of a bet, but ends up falling for them only for the bet to be revealed, ruining everything.
In He's All That, Zack is challenged to make Laney into the prom queen, but they start to actually like each other as she becomes more comfortable socially and he realizes that popularity isn't everything.
At the end of the movie after the bet is revealed, Zack attends prom with his sister, and Laney goes with Dean (Paul Walker), a guy who is just trying to have sex with her. Zack's ex Taylor (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe) wins prom queen; Laney fights off Dean's advances and goes home to find Zack waiting for her. They profess their love for each other. Zack, having lost the bet, has to appear naked on the graduation stage.
He's All That's ending is similar, with a few changes.
In He's All That, the lead character, Padgett (Addison Rae), is the one who corresponds with Zack. She is a social media star, who loses a major sponsorship after an embarrassing video of her finding out her boyfriend Jordan (Peyton Meyer) is cheating on her appears online for the world to see. A friend (Madison Pettis) challenges her to a bet to make herself a new love interest and turn him into prom king, since this will also appease the owner of the company who sponsors her (Kourtney Kardashian). If you didn't follow that logic, that's because it only sort of makes sense. The guy she has to make over is a photography-loving loner named Cameron (Tanner Buchanan).
While Padgett is popular like Zack was, there are more stakes here, because she also needs her social media job to be successful, since she is not as wealthy as her schoolmates and needs to put herself through college.
At the end of the movie, Padgett goes to prom alone; Cameron doesn't attend. Padgett wins prom queen, but after giving a speech about how she has learned to stay true to herself, she gives up the title. Outside of the dance, she finds Cameron waiting for her. They make up and then travel through Europe together. Having lost the bet, Padgett gets a tattoo that says "loser" and Cameron gets one, too. (Note to the youth: You do not need to uphold the terms of a bet, especially if it was made with a ex-friend, who was secretly trying to ruin your life!)
The moral of the story is pretty much the same.
If the moral in She's All That is "don't judge a book by its cover," the moral in He's All That is "be true to yourself." So, there's a little more focus on how the characters see themselves, rather than just how they see each other. For instance, Padgett ends up changing her social media strategy because of what she learns about being herself and stops hiding that she and her mother (played by Cook) aren't rich.
There are still some issues.
Again, we're not getting into the quality here — judge for yourself — but there are some similar issues between the two movies. For one, in the original there is an attempted sexual assault that is lightly brushed aside. In the new movie, there's another instance of a character, Jordan, trying to get a girl to go further than she wants to sexually. While the other characters take this seriously, it ends up being solved via a slapstick fight and the Jordan character continues to be played for laughs.
Also, there is, obviously, still very much a focus on appearance. This comes in the form of Cameron's makeover, which leads to him being objectified, but also in Cameron telling Padgett that she hides behind her makeup. Yikes. Basically, there's a lot of people's agency being questioned and that's not the most progressive idea.
The best similarity of all.
We still get Sixpence None the Richer's "Kiss Me," and it's still a banger.

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