Set in the late-90s heyday of MTV, “She’s All That” featured a jock who, after being dumped by his girlfriend, accepts a bet to turn a geek into a prom queen. His prize? Saving face. In “He’s All That,” the new gender-flipped Netflix remake, the stakes have shifted. For the teen beauty influencer Padgett (TikTok superstar Addison Rae), popularity pays the bills. When she’s humiliated by her jerk boyfriend on a livestream, she decides to transform the brooding Cameron (Tanner Buchanan) into a prom king in a bid to win back her followers and brand endorsements.
It’s a smart premise that speaks to how the times have a-changed, so it’s a pity that “He’s All That” makes such little use of it. Save for the cellphones the characters wield like weapons, Mark Waters’s reboot lazily rehashes the 1999 film, although without its endearing weirdness. Where the original had Freddie Prinze Jr. doing performance art to woo his edgy conquest, Padgett takes riding lessons with Cameron, who we’re supposed to believe is a loser in spite of his equestrian skills and eight-pack abs.
Not that it was any easier to buy that Rachel Leigh Cook (who cameos here as Padgett’s mom) was ugly because she had glasses on. Hot people pretending to be homely is par for the course in makeover movies; the real thrill lies in watching opposites attract. But the catfights, confessions, and dance-offs in “He’s All That” lack the sting of real romantic conflict, and there’s nary a spark between Rae and Buchanan. Rae struggles to modulate her camera-ready bubbliness in moments that require pathos, while Buchanan plays the emo loner with reluctance, switching too easily to handsome-loverboy mode. If they dutifully deliver the film’s platitudinous message — “be yourself” — it’s with the conviction of a makeup brand selling a “natural look.”
He’s All That
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes. Watch on Netflix.
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