The bet — the fucking bet — is the worst part of either movie. But at least in She’s All That, Zach betting that he could make any loser prom queen served as a potential for a character arc — which then was fulfilled. But Zach is supposed to be wrong to make that bet. He has such a loose sense of self that he defines himself solely by his leadership abilities. But at the beginning of the movie, our sympathy is with Laney, not Zach. As Zach gets to know Laney and starts to winner her over, we are won over too. We start to see how great they could be together if he hadn’t started their relationship based on a lie. That’s the tension of this premise, and even though it’s an overused and, frankly, weak trope, it is used as effectively as possible in the original movie.
In He’s All That, Padgett is supposed to be a good person. Yes, she’s an influencer, which means that she is good at cultivating a good opinion of her, but that doesn’t automatically make her vapid or arrogant. In every interaction, she seems sweet and sincere. She’s upset that her boyfriend, someone she actually cared about (and baked for), was cheating on her, and she is baffled by the Bubble Girl incident (which is its own yikes). But she is not presented as two-faced or insincere at any point in the movie, before the scene in which she makes the bet. She’s not even particularly calculating in any of the other scenes in the movie.
So, for her to take credit for whathisface’s popularity and declare that she could do the same for any boy at the school is jarring. I don’t understand why the writer of the sequel decided to write the same exact scene as the original when the characters giving the speech have completely different personalities. However, if the writer had given Padgett’s/Zach’s speech to Quinn as she defends her friend’s honor, and have Padgett’s frenemy Aidan (Dean in the original) challenge her on that — that would have made sense.
Say, for instance, that Quinn points out Cameron and Aidan scoffs at the idea of making a guy wearing a flannel the most popular boy in school. Padgett could speak up to defend Cameron, saying all he’d need is a haircut and a nice tux. Aidan would be all like, “Okay, so it’s a bet,” and Padgett would be all like, “No, my mom had a bet like that made about her and she was scarred for life,” and Aidan would be like, “Right. Just admit that you couldn’t do it –” and so on until Padgett is goaded by Aidan and encouraged by Quinn into accepting the bet.
Now, I’m not saying this would make it a good movie. BUT it would introduce the very weak premise in a way that actually makes sense.