While the previously reviewed "Easy A" is a great example of the classic teen comedy done right, the 1999 film "She's All That" is quite the opposite. This movie has been mocked and parodied to death, but is it really that bad? Rachael Leigh Cook is the only reason to see this movie and she does her best with the material given. The rest of the cast is stocked with the late 90's version of the Brat Pack: Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Anna Paquin, a young Paul Walker not to mention others.
The story is packed to rafters with cliché piled on top of cliché. Cook plays Laney Boggs, a "nerdy" artist type. Her clothes are splattered with paint, her hair always in a ponytail not to mention she wears glasses, by the rules of high school movies she is a hideous freak. We then arrive at the jumping off point to our familiar story. Prinze plays Zack Siler (not to be confused with Stewie's Family Guy Parody Zack Sawyer) the jock and hottest, richest guy in school. His equally rich bitch of a girlfriend has just dumped him right before the prom, dude bogus! He was dumped for a conceited douche bag (played by Matthew Lillard) who claims to fame was being on the MTV's "The Real World". On the rebound and looking to change things up a bit Zack and his friends make a bet he can turn any girl into the prom queen. Right on queue, the messy and clumsy Laney stumbles on by. Little does he know that through Laney he'll learn more about himself and loving another person than he ever thought he could. (silent giggle).
First of all, Laney is obviously the hottest girl in school even in her "ugly" phase. She's smart, expressive, and a strong independent girl. Smelling his bullshit a mile away Laney keeps her distance but he is very persistent. She eventually gives him a chance and they start to bond. Before going to their first big party as a couple, Zack's sister Mackenzie (Anna Paquin) comes over to make Laney "pretty". This consists of taking off her glasses, cutting her hair and putting some make-up on leading up to the grand staircase entrance/reveal. The party turns out to be a disaster and leaves Laney feeling more alone than ever. Zack is also still harboring some strong feeling for his old girlfriend Taylor. Then Laney becomes aware of the contest she kicks his ass to the curb. Coincidentally
Taylor also becomes available and wants Zack back bigtime. Does he go back to his old cheating girlfriend or try to repair things with Laney? Not so fast Zack, in the meantime his best friend Dean (Paul Walker) has eyes on Laney and she uses him to make Zack jealous. But like all teen movies, everything comes to head at the prom, where for some reason there is a big choreographed dance number and everyone is a professionally trained dancer.
Teen movies follow a pretty strict formula and very rarely do anything original or daring. "She's All That" is a used textbook example, but as I said, in the beginning, Rachael Leigh is pretty awesome in this. She really is all that. So if your lookin' for some cheesy romantic 90s nostalgia this is quite the goldmine.