Auditions exist for a reason. We all know of them — they’re the process where the creators of a movie check to see if an actor actually has talent before casting them in a role. This is exactly what the creators of HE’S ALL THAT, a new Netflix high school rom-com, should have done before casting TikTok influencer Addison Rae in the lead role of their film. To be fair, Rae’s casting in this film is the least of its problems, but it is still confounding that such a popular movie has such an uncharismatic and bland lead performance anchoring the story. With that being said, HE’S ALL THAT is a failure in almost every possible way. If a person above the age of 50 viewed this movie without any context, they would want to purge the entirety of Gen Z from the Earth after viewing. Not only is it awkward, cringe-worthy and painfully predictable, but it promotes a privileged, rich and LA-centric version of life that I wish would only be documented in a negative connotation.
The film is a remake of the 1999 rom-com She’s All That, except this film is gender-swapped and centers around a social-media influencer. Essentially, Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae playing herself) must regain her social media fame when an embarrassing incident causes her to lose followers. In order to do this, she places a bet with her friend that she can make the biggest loser in the school to win prom king with her. After she chooses Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan), an old-fashioned guy with no social media presence who likes Bad Religion and Kubrick, thus begins a romance that everyone has seen a million times before except far better. I understand that rom-coms like this aren’t supposed to be judged based on their predictability, but when during any point in the movie I found myself being able to predict beat-for-beat how the next few scenes would play out, I’d say there’s a problem.
The only things that weren’t contributing to the mediocrity in this movie are Tanner Buchanan, Rachael Leigh Cook and Matthew Lillard. The latter two are only present because they were in the original 1999 film, so it’s only natural they’re far better than the rest of the cast. Tanner Buchanan attempts to pull his own weight here (he was very good in Cobra Kai, the Karate Kid sequel show), but neither him nor anyone else can really do anything with the atrocious material they are given to work with. The dialogue here sounds like the wealthy L.A. screenwriter wrote it half asleep without knowing anything about public schooling and sent it to production without proofreading it. On top of that, the acting, for the most part, seems like a middle school play where the students are reading their lines straight from a piece of paper. The scenes near the end where characters have to get emotional are so badly acted that I laughed about ten times more than when the movie was actually trying to make me laugh.
What bothers me about many high school movies that get greenlit recently is the focus on rich, white and affluent neighborhoods and an ignorance of the high school stories that are actually interesting. HE’S ALL THAT is that trend on steroids, to the point where the message of the movie involving influencers on social media is only relatable to those who have the time and money to indulge in this culture. The film seems like it was made for and by rich white people in Los Angeles, and seems to be a symptom of people like Addison Rae being able to do literally whatever they want with no consequences. The ultimate irony of HE’S ALL THAT is the fact that the message involves how influencers are more interesting and personable than the fake pictures they post online, yet this film is the most soulless and fake product from Netflix all year. Way to prove the haters right.
HE’S ALL THAT is worth watching if you and friends want something to ruthlessly roast while eating snacks or doing something else that will require more of your attention. Other than that, I’d say this film is one to avoid unless you enjoy cringing for an hour and thirty minutes straight. Supposedly Addison Rae has a deal with Netflix to executive produce and star in at least three more projects, which sounds like the worst idea since producing a live-action version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. Giving this movie money by watching it is the cinematic equivalent of driving an SUV and contributing to the destruction of the environment. For the love of God, buy an electric car instead.