Fixing He’s All That Pt. 4

Why a (fucking) bet? At its core, She’s All that is an unlikely couple trope. We wouldn’t expect the weird, artsy kid to date the high school quarterback. And Janie’s and Zach’s personalities and priorities are different enough that it’s believable that they would never meet or get to know each other under normal circumstance.

But there are other ways to throw two characters together. Janie could have been asked by her art teacher to help Zach (who was probably President of the Student Council or something) come up with a theme for Prom. Or Zach could have needed a job at the Falafel Hut, for some reason. It’s believable that their personalities would clash some, but, as in the actual movie, they find it easy enough to find common ground once they get to know each other.

So, why a bet? Aside from it being a way to get the characters together, it’s also provides motivation for Zach to try to breech Laney’s emotional defenses, instead of backing off forever, which most teenagers would do when faced with Janey’s steely gazed world weariness.

Fixing He’s All That Pt. 3

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.

Fixing He’s All That Pt. 2

In He’s All That, Rachel Leigh Cook plays Padgett’s mom. Her character’s name in She’s All That is Laney and in this movie, her character’s name is Anna, so she’s obviously not supposed to be playing the same character. This is a missed opportunity. How much more weight would the story have had for Padgett to have made the same type of bet with her friends as her father had made with his?

Even though Freddie Prinze Jr. either didn’t want or wasn’t available to reprise his role as Zach, the character could have been written as dead, out of town, or re-cast. There could have been a scene between either mom or dad or both and Padgett, where the parent(s) talk about their own experiences and what they learned from it. If Anna had the kind of relationship with Padgett where they talked about stuff that matters, which is what the movie seems to want to portray, we could have gotten some tension from Anna either knowing what Padgett was up to and not approving, or not knowing because Padgett is too ashamed to tell her.

Also, since Matthew Lillard was obviously willing to reprise his exact role from She’s All that, I don’t understand why they didn’t make him Padgett’s stepfather or just a friend for Anna/Laney. I didn’t recognize his voice when the principal was making announcements throughout the movie, but I did wonder why the invisible principal had more depth than the leads. And, honestly, when he was finally revealed at the end of the movie, I lit up. He’s still so charismatic and adorable, and I think one of the reasons I wasn’t able to get into Good Girls is because his character is so bland. I miss early-oughts Matthew Lillard and I’m glad he’s still around.

I’m old, so I remember watching this movie when I was just a few years out of high school myself, and although his character was irredeemable, Matthew Lillard is just so damned captivating. To see who has become in He’s All That makes his character arc more interesting and dimensional than any other character in either movie. It was almost worse to have him elevate the scenes that he was in so that now I have ONE reason to re-watch the movie, if only for those scenes. I’m sure I’ll be able to find a compilation on YouTube, though, so I won’t have to suffer through the rest.

Fixing He’s All That Pt. 1

There were a lot of issues with the sequel/remake of She’s All That that came out on Netflix a few weeks ago. It was disappointing because certain aspects of the original have aged badly but there is some charm to the original. The chemistry between the actors, not just the leads, was excellent. Also, with such a large cast, it’s easy for characters to be written without dimension, but even the most outlandish characters (Matthew Lillard), still follow the laws of physics. This includes the first law of physics: poop smells.

In the remake, characters have a shit fight and then we’re supposed to believe that this is a romantic/bonding moment. This is not to say that shit fight scenes can’t work in a comedy — although the only one I can think of at the moment is the one in the first season of Parks & Rec. The reason that scene works is because the adults, Leslie and Tom, are disgusted by the fight. Tom immediately excuses himself and Leslie tries to break up the fight. The teenagers start throwing shit at her. Leslie uses a trash can lid as a shield, remarks on the smell, and is grossed out. Her own engagement in the fight is gradual, and by the time she admits that it is kind of fun, I, as a viewer, am fully engaged in the scene and laughing.

On the other hand, in He’s All That, Padgett slips as she climbs down from a horse and lands in a pile of manure. Nevermind that aside from that pile of shit, the stable is immaculate. When Cameron laughs at her, Padgett scoops up some of the poop and throws it at his face. Neither character remarks on the smell, neither is grossed out, and Cameron’s reaction to having shit thrown in his face is to laugh and share intimate eye contact with Padgett. This is not a parody movie. Just a regular old rip-off of an okay teen comedy from the late 1900s.