johnlink ranks SHE’S ALL THAT (1999)

Guilty pleasure warning! I’ve been working on a show at the high school which deals with the mindset of young adults as they graduate high school and prepare to move on in the world. It has definitely brought me back to that time in my life. Watching TEACHING MRS. TINGLE was, I think, a subconscious reflection of that. Watching SHE’S ALL THAT while sick and trying to go to sleep was more conscious. I was pretty sure I would fall asleep in the first ten minutes, but it sucked me right in.

I watched SHE’S ALL THAT (1999) on 2.18.11. It was, I would guess, my fifth viewing of the film, but first in a half dozen years or so. TRAILER HERE

SHE’S ALL THAT is a modernization of My Fair Lady, which itself was a modernization of Pygmalion. It’s the Ugly Duckling story, a upper echelon person turning something with hidden beauty into its fully bloomed flower.

Only this time it is set in a high school. The class president, Freddie Prinze Jr., is trying to mold Rachel Leigh Cook in order to satisfy a bet. The film is definitely a product of the 90s. One can only use the words ‘wigging’ or ‘wack’ so many times before you’ve lodged yourself in that particular decade. But for all of that, and despite the fact that it has about a half dozen scenes which have been parodied to death, it still provides some entertainment, the way BREAKFAST CLUB still entertains, despite its contemporaneous feel. However, the film is not shot particularly well, so BREAKFAST CLUB is definitely better in that regard.

The performance art scene in SHE’S ALL THAT is just great. It smiles at performance art, winks at it, but does not mock it. But there is absolutely a sense that some kid could come in, make something up, and be successful as long as he sells it. I love that scene. The beach sequence is good, the party is solid, the dance (other than, you know, the actual dancing) works, and we get a nice concluding scene. Is this a classic of its genre? Probably not. And even if it were, this genre isn’t exactly Shakespeare. But it does what it sets out to do.

I do find it funny that with all the promising young stars in this thing, the two which turned out to have the most successful careers are Paul Walker (Of FAST AND THE FURIOUS fame) and Dule Hill (one of the leads in PYSCH). Matt Lillard has fallen off the map, except to do the voice of Shaggy here and there, and Freddie Prinze Jr. is relegated to B movies and guest star roles (though he had a nice turn in the last season of 24). Rachel Leigh Cook, who is actually quite good in this film, who has the most promise, has never really taken off. Watching her again in this, I feel like she should work more. She’s actually very watchable.

If you haven’t seen this yet, then it will probably be a little too dated to really enjoy a first time. But hey, it was a definite film of my teen years, and it will always hold a special place (albeit one I am guilty over) in my heart.



The negative bonus point is for the horrendous dance sequence at the prom. It is the reason this movie was a target for parody in the first place. I read where it was shot at the last second as filler, to make the run time longer. Bad choice. If you want to see how to do a dance sequence well in a comedy not at all about dance or music, see (500) DAYS OF SUMMER.



~ by johnlink00 on February 18, 2011.

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