A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that He's All That is a reworking of the 1999 hit She's All That, featuring popular YouTuber Addison Rae in her first starring role. The movie's ultimate messages are positive ones about self-respect and creating healthy boundaries in an online world, but the film also has lots of strong language ("f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," and more), sexual references, and some not-very-nice behavior among teens. Classmates cheat on each other and scheme to undermine each other. They bet on the challenge of turning a "loser" into a prom king, there's mention of online and real-life bullying, and two boys engage in a knockout fight. Some characters chronicle their entire lives online, forgetting to live "in real life." A girl walks in on her boyfriend "hooking up" with another girl. This is caught on film, and she's demonized for her reaction, while the boyfriend's popularity only increases. There's a double entendre about "riding," plus kissing, sexual references, and innuendo. The main characters learn valuable lessons about themselves, and there's some welcome diversity in their friend group, though most of the high schoolers portrayed here are wealthy (one throws herself a massive theme party at her mansion, where kids come in elaborate costumes and drink "mocktails"). Another teen appears to be selling drugs on campus.
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What's the story?
In HE'S ALL THAT, Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae) is a high school student and beauty influencer who has turned her online profile into a small business, earning money and stylish freebies as a brand sponsor. As she's livestreaming one day to her thousands of followers, she walks in on her boyfriend, self-obsessed singer Jordan Van Draanan (Petyton Meyer), as he's cheating on her. Her reaction goes viral and she becomes the source of online ridicule, losing tons of followers and potentially also her main sponsor. Her best friend, spoiled rich girl Alden (Madison Pettis), challenges her to a bet that she can't turn scruffy loner Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan) into a prom king. Padgett takes the bet, but she doesn't plan on actually falling for the sensitive photographer.
Is it any good?
One thing's for sure: This remake of the 1999 hit She's All That pays the earlier film a great compliment in relying quite so heavily on its formula. In ways large and small, He's All That works as a clear-cut updating of the original. Key plot points and characters are only slightly adjusted here, with the biggest changes being the gender-swapped makeover and a new social media world that didn't yet exist at the turn of the millennium. Fans will enjoy the self-parodying cameos, especially an amusing Matthew Lillard as the sarcastic high school principal and Kourtney Kardashian as an insincere brand manager. Lillard steals what little screen time he has, managing to whip out some of his dance moves from the original and deliver a couple of chuckle-worthy lines. She's All That star Rachel Leigh Cook's presence is much more subdued by comparison.
The film is trimmed to a tight 88 minutes and moves quickly, maybe even too fast to create much rapport between the leads. The camera certainly loves Addison Rae, an influencer playing to type here, and she comes across as genuine enough in her acting debut. Though Tanner Buchanan delivers his lines more credibly, she's the film's big draw The cast is conspicuously more diverse than the original, including in race and body size, which is a welcome addition to an otherwise predictable tale. Also new here: the extreme wealth of some of the high schoolers and their constant use of social media. The new "opting out" is protecting one's privacy or not having a smartphone, and the film critiques the superficiality of lives lived online, being valued by image and followers, while "real life" passes by. The critique is gentle and pretty superficial itself, but it's a positive one for the film's target audience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what are healthy limits on sharing one's life on social media, something Padgett and others are figuring out in He's All That. Are "followers" actual friends? Do you miss out on "real life" experiences if you're worried in the moment about filming them?
If you've seen the original, She's All That, how does this film compare? Which characters, primary and secondary, have been reimagined here? What situations and plot turns did you recognize? Which film did you like better, and why?
Did the characters in this film ring true for you? Are they representative of teens today? Why, or why not?
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