Back-To-School Month: "She's All That" Review

Photo Credit: Miramax Films

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Back-To-School Month: "She's All That" Review

Rating: PG-13 (sexual content, crude humor, brief strong language, and teen drinking)
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: Jan. 29, 1999
Directed by: Robert Iscove
Genre: Comedy/Romance

"She's All That" is a classic teen romantic-comedy film that became a cult classic after its release in the late '90s. From the outside, it appears this movie is just another teen flick that revolves around a guy asking a girl to go to prom with him, but it is so much more. What began as a bet between two guys turns into a feud that encompasses a whole school.

Based on George Cukor's 1964 film "My Fair Lady" and George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion," "She's All That" takes the general plot from these two classics and adds some modern-day style to give a film that fits perfectly for the decade in which it was made. Directed by Robert Iscove, the film is led wonderfully well by Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook. The two perform admirably as Zack and Laney respectively. Although Prinze Jr. was already an established Hollywood star at that time, this film marked the first time that Cook had been given a lead role.

Apart from Prinze Jr. and Cook, there are several other notable celebrities who play parts in this film, such as Usher Raymond, Lil' Kim, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Gabrielle Union. The supporting cast includes Anna Paquin and Paul Walker among others. The dynamic of the cast gives off a positive vibe that is felt all too well during some of the more hilarious scenes.

"She's All That" opens focusing on the life of Zack, who considers himself to be a big shot in his high school. Zack seems to have everything going for him; however, when his girlfriend ditches him for an ex-reality TV star, Zack's world appears to come crashing down. Although his ex-girlfriend Taylor was one of the more popular girls in school, Zack is able to console himself with the fact that he can replace Taylor with any girl at school.

Zack proposes this solution to his close friend Dean (played by Walker), but he disagrees with his plan and the pair agree to a bet. The deal is simple: Zack must turn a random girl into the Prom Queen in just over a month. Zack takes up the challenge and soon finds Laney, who is a nerdy-looking art student.

Although his initial attempts are unsuccessful, Zack gets help from Laney's friend Jesse, who matches the pair together in an art-theater lounge. Laney tests Zack's resolve by making him perform on stage, but he does himself no harm with his performance. Still, Laney is not at all impressed by Zack's efforts to win her over. With assistance from Laney's brother, Zack gets Laney to go to a party, and his sister Mac (played by Paquin) gives her a makeover. Finally Zack's efforts begin to pay off, and Laney develops affection for him.

With a brand new look and some attention at school, Laney becomes the favorite to be the Prom Queen. Zack's friend Dean doesn't like this at all, so he goes about trying to win Laney for himself. She refuses, causing Dean to let slip why Zack is pursuing her. Laney is outraged and doesn't want to see Zack ever again.

Zack ends up going to the prom with his sister while Dean escorts Laney. Surprisingly, Zack's ex-girlfriend Taylor is pronounced Prom Queen. Meanwhile, Laney spurns Dean after learning that he only wanted to sleep with her. After Laney leaves the prom, Zack pursues her and professes his true feelings for her. Laney relents and agrees for the pair to pursue a relationship. After they kiss, Zack says he must meet the terms of his agreement with Dean. The final scene shows Zack fulfilling the terms of that deal: appearing naked onstage at his graduation ceremony.

Although the film only received mixed reviews from critics, it defied all odds to reach number one at the box office. "She's All That" did well commercially both domestically and internationally, resulting in the film being termed a sleeper hit. It made back its production budget of $10 million more than ten times over. The lead characters of "She's All That" also picked up many film nominations, with Prinze Jr. winning the Choice Actor Award at the Teen Choice Awards while Cook was awarded the Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film at the YoungStar Awards. The film's main theme song, "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer, also won the Best Song Award at the Young Hollywood Awards.

"She's All That" seems like a typical '90s comedy film, and it may even take you back to your days in high school spent worrying about who to take to the prom. Overall, this film is very enjoyable, with just the right number of hilarious moments without going overboard.

Rating: 3 out of 5