Review: 'He's All That' puts social media twist on 'She's All That'

The '90s teen hit gets a makeover courtesy of TikTok queen Addison Rae.

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

The stakes are never very high in "He's All That," Netflix's update on 1999's "She's All That," itself a riff on "Pygmalion," the geek-to-chic narrative which gets updated for each new generation.

"He's All That" brings the story to the TikTok set, and stars the app's queen Addison Rae, who has amassed some 82 million followers with her dance videos and her abundant, wholesome cheer. Rae isn't much of an actress, but "He's All That" doesn't ask much more of her than to smile and say her lines. In that respect, she succeeds wildly. 

Tanner Buchanan and Addison Rae in "He's All That."

Rae plays social media influencer Padgett Sawyer, whose world gets turned upside down when a live video of her goes awry and she becomes a meme, in a bad way. She's dropped from her top sponsorship deal — Kourtney Kardashian plays her brand manager, of course — which puts her college career in jeopardy. Oh, the perils of modern social celebrity. 

Since she's known for her makeover tutorials, she makes a bet with a girl at school that she can take any old schlub in school and turn them into prom king. Challenge accepted. She decides her subject will be the brooding, disaffected Cameron Kweller ("Cobra Kai's" Tanner Buchanan), whose outsider status is defined by his punk rock T-shirts (the Stooges, GG Allin) and his interest in photography. It doesn't hurt that he has washboard abs, either. 

There was more malice in the big bet in "She's All That," but even 20 years ago the cruelty of high school wasn't such a thorny subject. Here, the bet and its consequences are an afterthought; even when it all comes crashing down around Padgett there are no truly hurt feelings. "He's All That" has the emotional depth of a TikTok video, and doesn't linger in the mind any more than a viral dance craze.  

Rachel Leigh Cook and Matthew Lillard appear in the film as callbacks to any ancient millennials who may have fond memories of "She's All That," while director (and Wyandotte native) Mark Waters ("Mean Girls") keeps things light and breezy throughout. The movie almost addresses the emptiness of social media, but stops short of taking any real stand against the social currency of likes and followers. It knows who its audience is. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'He's All That'

GRADE: C

Not rated: light teen partying, brief language

Running time: 90 minutes

On Netflix