[Screen It]


(1999) (Freddie Prinze, Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook) (PG-13)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Mild Extreme None Minor
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Smoking Tense Family
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Romantic Comedy: A popular student falls for his school's social outcast after he bets a friend that he can turn her into the prom queen.
At Southern California's William Henry Harrison High School, spring break is over and the students have returned to some shocking news. It seems that Taylor Vaughan (JODI LYN O'KEEFE), the most popular girl in school, has dumped her boyfriend Zack Siler (FREDDIE PRINZE JR.), the best looking and most popular guy in school, for Brock Hudson (MATTHEW LILLARD), the star of the latest installment of MTV's "Real World."

Zack, who turns out to a nice guy with the fourth highest GPA in his class, is understandably devastated. After all, he and Taylor planned to attend their upcoming prom and undoubtably be named its reigning King and Queen. Concerned that he no longer has a date, Zack confidently announces that he could take any girl to the prom and make her the Queen. His buddy, Dean Sampson (PAUL WALKER) bets that he can't, and then picks out Laney Boggs (RACHAEL LEIGH COOK), an independent, social outcast, as Zack's "assignment."

Using Laney's love of art as his "in," Zack starts following her around, a point that irritates her even more once he meets her younger brother, Simon (KIERAN CULKIN) and father (KEVIN POLLACK). Soon, however, the two become friends of sorts, and after Zack's sister Mackenzie (ANNA PAQUIN) gives Laney a beauty makeover, Zak finds himself falling for her even more.

From that point on, the two must figure out how to deal with their romantic feelings toward one another while also contending with other students' reactions to them, as well as Taylor and Dean's efforts to undermine their budding relationship.

Squarely aimed at the teen audience, it's a near sure bet that this age-group will want to see this film.
For sexual content, crude humor, brief strong language and teen drinking.
  • FREDDIE PRINZE, JR. plays a smart, and popular high school student who reluctantly bets that he can turn Laney into the prom queen, but ends up falling for her. Other than that initial bet and some brief drinking at a party, he turns out to be a nice, caring guy.
  • RACHAEL LEIGH COOK plays the social outcast who must deal with the other students' demeaning behavior toward her (and uses the "f" word once in frustration).
  • JODI LYN O'KEEFE plays the snobbish, most popular girl in school who dumps Zack and is mean to Laney.
  • PAUL WALKER plays Zack's friend who will do anything to get Laney into bed.


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    Somewhat charming but fleetingly entertaining and heavily relying on clichés, stereotypes and the attractive looks of its young cast to appease its target audience, "She's All That" is nothing more than a teen-based retreading of George Bernard Shaw's play, "Pygmalion."

    If that work isn't overly familiar to you, think of the plots of films such as "My Fair Lady," "Pretty Woman" (which is even referenced here) and other films (including, of course, the award winning 1938 film of the same name) where a character with ulterior motives helps transform the "ugly duckling" character into the beautiful, educated, or socially adept "princess."

    Noting the popularity and success of those films, one can't entirely fault feature film first-timers director Robert Iscove (a TV veteran who did the recent "Cinderella" TV movie) and writer Lee Fleming for wanting to mine some of that story gold. To their credit, they've successfully molded the basic, but familiar plot structure into a teenage setting.

    That said, however, only momentary moments of imagination and intelligence lift this beyond the all too typically stupid teenage comedy. Now, before you teens out there get yourself worked up into a lather over that comment, I should point out that I've enjoyed many films of this genre -- such as "Sixteen Candles," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High, etc... -- and know that they can be fun, enjoyable and highly entertaining when done correctly.

    Although this one occasionally works in those regards and shows some limited signs of imagination -- including a decently constructed flashback moment where the characters walk between and amongst the two settings -- most of it shows little or no forward momentum or urgency, and is filled with too many contrived, clichéd, and inconsistent elements for its own good.

    Unless you've never seen a movie before, there's little doubt that our hero will fall for the girl, that she'll soon learn of his earlier instated, gambling-related ruse and they'll subsequently fall apart, but ultimately will get back together again. It's a tried and true formula that's appeared in countless films -- some successful, some not -- but this one can't entirely escape the many problems that plague it.

    For starters, the two lead characters, despite their charming good looks, simply don't have enough honest or realistic time together to make their sudden relationship and newfound love believable. While we're supposed to accept it simply because we see it quickly evolve on screen, it feels artificial and forced, as does the thought of the caring and insightful Zack ever dating the completely incompatible, "mega-bitch" Taylor.

    Then there's the magical metamorphosis of the female lead -- an element that's endeared many other films in the hearts of moviegoers -- but similarly feels too artificial and rushed here for anyone to buy into it completely.

    As initially portrayed, Laney is the typical and clichéd social outcast -- this time with a passion for art -- but her transformation and comfortable acceptance of suddenly being the hip, social star occurs much too quickly and without the proper rough edges.

    Case in point, a girl like this, no matter how successful the transformation, wouldn't be caught dead at the prom -- the complete antithesis of her entire being and philosophy until the last several weeks -- unless she had a strong point to make. Unfortunately, she only appears there because that's where the plot -- plodding along without much momentum or energy -- has decided the characters should appear for the big confrontational finale.

    Although a nicely choreographed and fun techno-pop dance number takes place there -- and is easily the film's highlight -- Iscove and Fleming have otherwise resorted throughout the film to the standard high school material -- the haves and have nots, the absentminded parent who finally imparts some wisdom, etc... that's permeated countless other films.

    Of the few moments where they do go out on a limb, however, such as one featuring a modern dance spoof and a scene involving a pizza, some pubic hair and the consumption of the latter -- which is gross in a "There's Something About Mary" type fashion, but certainly not as outrageously funny -- just don't work as well as intended.

    The film's saving grace is its attractive cast, and who better to play the BMOC than recent heartthrob Freddie Prinze, Jr. (from the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" films). While his character clearly isn't developed enough to make him entirely believable, Prinze does a fine job of making him seem like a nice and caring guy. Even so, this could be the beginning of his breakout role from teen-based films into the status of leading man parts.

    Meanwhile, Rachael Leigh Cook (whose had small parts in films such as "Living Out Loud" and "The House of Yes") is cute enough for her part, but likewise suffers from too many contrived characteristics. The same holds true for performers such as Jodi Lyn O'Keefe ("Halloween: H20") and Paul Walker ("Varsity Blues"), who play the stereotypically annoying snobbish girlfriend and best friend respectively, and can't do much with their clichéd characterizations.

    Occasionally amusing and charming, the film is competent enough to entertain its target audience, but doesn't do much beyond relying on its plot's thoroughbred heritage. Certainly not on par with the best teen comedies, the film will most likely make a quick run at the box office before quickly retiring to the rental shelves of your local video store. We give "She's All That" a 3 out of 10.

    Here's a quick summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated film that's aimed directly at teens. Profanity is moderate due to 1 use of the "f" word (with other words, as well as religious and colorful phrases occurring throughout). Some sexual comments also occur and we twice see a teenage couple in bed (although we don't see any nudity or explicit behavior) along with several young women in skimpy bathing suits or tight fitting clothes.

    Some teenage drinking occurs at parties (with one character appearing somewhat intoxicated), and a few characters briefly smoke. Plenty of snobbish bad attitudes abound (students being mean and/or demeaning to Laney), and some gross out humor occurs in the form of a student having to eat a pizza with pubic hair on it (and we see a close-up of the pubic hair in his mouth).

    Since many teens will probably want to see this film, you may want to take a closer look at its content to determine if it's appropriate for them, or anyone else in your home.

  • Taylor comments about a friend "getting plowed" on spring break and making out with some older man.
  • Dean mentions that there will be booze at a party, and we later see students there, including Taylor, Brock, Dean, Zack and Laney, who are drinking (some beer and others what's presumably cocktails). Dean comments, "I may be wasted, but I'm not blind" and we see Taylor stumbling about and slurring her words implying that she's drunk.
  • Simon offers to get Zack a drink at his house and we then see him scouring through various spirits before pouring some liquor into his version of a margarita.
  • We see some beers near Brock (during a dream).
  • We some cocktails sitting out in front of Taylor as she awaits her date for the prom.
  • Dean and another student drink from flasks in the bathroom.
  • None of the following is of the traditional blood and gore vein, but it may gross out some viewers.
  • Laney, trying to get her younger brother to get out of bed, warns him and then nearly spits into his juice (we see her suck her spit back into her mouth).
  • Seeing a girl pulling her pants from her behind, a student calls that "rectal archaeology."
  • On a segment of Brock's show, we hear him fart and see others' reactions to that.
  • Taylor comments that she could win the prom queen contest even on the first day of her period.
  • Laney walks in on a young woman who's just thrown up in a toilet and she appears to have a bit of vomit on her face.
  • We see a student put a clump of his pubic hair on a pizza to be mean to Simon, but Zack comes to the rescue and makes that bully and his friend take a bite from that pizza (and we then see the pubic hair in his mouth during a close-up shot).
  • Taylor has both for dumping Zack in favor of Brock, and is also extremely demeaning and mean to Laney (in one scene she pours her drink down Laney's dress to embarrass her at a party).
  • Zack has a bit of both for agreeing to the bet that he can transform Laney into the prom queen.
  • Zack briefly calls Simon "Spaz."
  • Dean is initially demeaning to Laney, but upon seeing her attractive makeover, he decides he wants to get her in bed, and puts on the nice, caring behavior to try to fool her into believing he's an okay guy.
  • Another female student tells Laney that she "runs like a girl."
  • A fellow art student is demeaning to Laney (asking Laney how it feels to be cleaning up the vomit of someone who's just been accepted into art school).
  • Some students pick on Simon in the school cafeteria, with one of them putting his pubic hair on a pizza Simon's carrying.
  • None.
  • A student wears a T-shirt with a large handgun printed on the front of it.
  • Phrases: "Screw me over," "Bad ass," "Bitch boy," "Bitch magnet," Bitching," "Nail" (sexual), "Skank," "Dork," "Suck," "You really blow," "Super freak," "Hotties," "Jump up my ass," "Screw" and "Screwed" (nonsexual), "Hoover" (to eat like a vacuum cleaner), "Pissed off," "You people suck" and "Shut up."
  • Some students are demeaning to others that they believe are different or of lower social classes.
  • Seeing a young woman pulling her pants from her behind, a student calls that "rectal archaeology," while another joke emanates from a man saying "super size my balls" (referring to a restaurant meal).
  • Laney, trying to get her younger brother to get out of bed, warns him and then nearly spits into his juice.
  • While a song plays the lyrics, "Give it to me, baby," Brock pumps his pelvis in a girl's face and then humps the floor as he "dances."
  • Taylor pours her drink down Laney's dress to embarrass her at a party.
  • None.
  • None.
  • A song talks about coming home intoxicated, and then has the line "Give it to me, baby."
  • At least 1 "f" word, 8 "s" words, 1 slang term for male genitals ("jimmy"), 4 slang terms for breasts ("t*ts," "boobs" and "bobos"), 8 asses (3 used with "hole"), 5 hells, 4 damns, 1 crap, and 4 uses of "Oh God," 3 each of "Oh my God" and "God," 2 of "Swear to God" and 1 use of "G- damn" as exclamations.
  • Taylor shows a bit of cleavage in her tightfitting top.
  • We see various young women (including Taylor) in skimpy bathing suits that show cleavage and parts of their bare butts.
  • We briefly see Taylor and Brock rolling around under a bed with sheets around them, but don't see anything else beyond her being in her bra. Later, Brock gropes Taylor's butt as he kisses her in public.
  • An art student shows some cleavage.
  • A person comments about Taylor that every girl wants to be her and "every guy wants to nail her."
  • We see a performance artist in his underwear.
  • We see Brock and Taylor in bed with her kissing and licking his chest while he tries to watch his TV show. Upset, she finally gets up and leaves and we see that she's wearing a camisole (or similar lingerie).
  • Dean states (at the beach) "Many women have lost it here" (presumably referring to their virginity).
  • Laney shows some cleavage in her bathing suit.
  • When Taylor caustically tells Zack, "Jump up my ass," he replies, "Been there. Done that."
  • While a song plays the lyrics, "Give it to me, baby," Brock pumps his pelvis in a girl's face and then humps the floor as he "dances."
  • Dean says that it's been a while since Zack "got any" (referring to his lack of sex causing him to miss a soccer shot), and then comments that he might want to get some himself from Laney.
  • When Laney says "Screw the dolphins" (meaning forget about them), her friend jokingly says that he tried that last year and was banned from Sea World.
  • A bully tries to make Simon look at pictures in what's presumably a porno magazine, but we don't see anything but the non-explicit cover.
  • After Taylor brushes by another student, he excitedly states that he touched her "boob."
  • A student dances with a blow up woman doll at the prom.
  • After Dean proudly displays his hotel room key, another student tells him, "Laney Boggs isn't going to give you any."
  • We see Zack sitting nude (at graduation and to satisfy a bet) with just a soccer ball between his legs (that he then throws to Laney, but we don't see anything else).
  • Laney's father smokes a few times, while Taylor and Dean also smoke.
  • Laney briefly talks about her mother dying many years earlier (from leukemia), and of her not remembering crying at the funeral (she was a very young child).
  • Zack feels pressure from his father to attend the same college he did, and they briefly and mildly have it out in a minor scene.
  • Accepting others for who they are, and directly related, students who are demeaning to others because they're "different."
  • Whether the film is an accurate representation of high school, or is filled with clichés and stereotypes.
  • Zack pushes Dean backwards in a locker room after the latter makes a sexual comment about Laney.

  • Reviewed January 26, 1999 / Posted on January 29, 1999

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