Right now, I’m sitting in my room watching She’s All That on VHS, so I couldn’t be happier. As evident by the Save the Last Dance post, and the Jawbreaker one I didn’t write, I’m on an old school kick. (Nothing to do with Will Farrell). This movie also has the phrase, “dissed and dismissed” line in it except it’s spoken by USHER who is the DJ for the school. I didn’t know high schools in America had DJs but…they do. This movie has so many famous people in it: Lil Kim, Usher, Gabrielle Union, Paul Walker, Matthew Lillard, Anna Paquin, Charlie from the West Wing, Kieran Kulkin, and obviously Rachael Leigh Cook and FREDDIE PRINZE JR. (whatever happened to him?)
One of the first characters we are introduced to is Zack Silar played by Freddie Prinze Jr. Just your regular good looking, smart, athletic, student body president. We are led to believe he is tortured and smart; there’s a scene of him shuffling through acceptance letters from Dartmouth, Yale and Harvard (that look like they were printed out on a Dell Laserjet- I thought this movie had a big budget?) but also kind of an asshole. He describes a female passerby as, “short, decent rack, a sort of Chelsea Clinton thing going on” and his ex-girlfriend Taylor as, “a C minus GPA and a Wonderbra.” That is the comment that sparks the whole bet- his friend Dean (Paul Walker) suggests that then he could make any girl prom queen if that’s all Taylor is. Annddd there’s our movie! Seriously, the entire plot of this movie is picking a random girl and turning her into prom queen. And it works beautifully.
The first sort of date Zack and Laney have, is a show at “the Jester.” This involves midgets in metallic spandex bodysuits saying things like, “My body is an island, my car is a Ford.” Zack has to do a “performance” with a hacky sack that, and I can only speak for myself, changed lives. However, while trendy people in black v-necks and glasses nod, Laney looks skeptical through her white body paint and black lipstick. Meanwhile, you kind of feel sorry for the guy. Thank god he has such strong ankles, otherwise he would have been SOL as they say. He also gets really out of breath- isn’t he supposed to be an athlete? Or is that letterman jacket he wears just for show? These are the kinds of questions the movie forces us to ask ourselves. A post show compliment from Zach to Laney:”C’mon-that thing you did with the paint and all the garbage? That was really good!” Romance is in the air ladies and gentlemen.
Sadly their date takes a turn for the worse when Zack decides to compliment her ‘beautiful’ eyes. Laney really doesn’t like that. So she storms off. But the next day he’s back, and this time he brought his yellow jeep! As he talks to her dad about his pool cleaning business, Zack tries to make niceties, only to be shot down again by Laney (who is fashionably wearing overalls). But Zack puts his foot down. By telling Laney she’s “wiggin” and threatening to play Sega with her brother, he manages to get her to go to the beach with him. Here we see scantily clad “high-schoolers” (early twenties, all of them) having FUN!! Here there is also a quick back and forth between Zack and Laney about pollution and the ocean, CNN is mentioned.
Then, PARTY! But Laney makes up an excuse that she has to clean the house and can’t go, prompting the famous scene where Zach enlists the entire JV soccer team to clean her house and Laney gets a MAKEOVER. Every girls’ dream. While waiting for teen magic to ensue, Zack and Laney’s family watch Jeopardy together- drinks are made, and fun is had by all. Meanwhile upstairs, Zack’s little sister’s (Anna Paquin’s) makeover is well underway. God bless this movie, this is the only time in the history of anything, that on camera to become hotter, a girls’ hair gets shorter. They also work in that the reason Laney is so unkempt is because her mom died before she could teach her to do all “that stuff.” Sewing the seeds of heartbreak and reconciliation. The big reveal and the descent down the stairs is when they choose to play “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer. A 90’s classic. She falls, he catches her, more seeds. You can decide which kind.
Now we’re at the party with Rachael Leigh Cook looking like a sullen Gap model and Freddie Prince just looking like a Gap model. Then there’s the scene where the art girl is drunk in the bathroom and she somehow insults Laney, so Laney shuts the door and does her makeup so she looks like a sad clown. If there is a deeper meaning here it was lost on me, I felt that exchange was always sort of odd and unexplained. Brock (the Real World Star/Taylor’s new boyfriend) starts a one man dance party to ‘Give it to Me Baby.” Taylor and Laney are wearing similar red dresses- making their standoff when Taylor dumps a drink down her front all the more dramatic. When Laney runs out and Zach runs after her, I think every girl collectively sighs as they watch this movie over margaritas when it re-airs on VH1.
Then we hear Usher announce Laney’s RUNNING FOR PROM QUEEN!!! Everyone’s beepers go off because excitement is in the air!!! Then we have a classic locker room brawl between Zack and Dean and they renounce their friendship over a sexual comment Dean makes about Laney.
Sooo Zack goes to visit her in her basement, aka her studio. He calls her mom beautiful, we find out she died of leukemia, he tells Laney she can’t shut everyone out, she calls him out about not picking a college yet, he tells her about his dad pressuring him to go to Dartmouth and calls her Tony Robbins (?), then they MAKE OUT!!!! Okay so no they don’t, but they come SO CLOSE. Laney reminds him of prom, which reminds him of the bet, and guilt washes over him. He leaves suddenly then we get a dream montage of all the characters as if they were on the Real World. SO 90’s.
Speaking of the 90’s, cut to a FREESTYLE RAP BATTLE at school over which girl would be better as prom queen which ends with the phrase, “She’s All That.” 😉 One refreshing thing about this movie is that there is a platonic friendship between a male (whose name happens to be Jesse Jackson) and a female, and no one is gay.
Then there’s a scene of anti-bullying!!! FREDDIE PRINZE JR. MAKES A GUY EAT HIS OWN PUBES!!! On a pizza. With the command, “Hoover it.” If that’s not cinematic gold, I don’t know what is. There’s also a sort of Diego Rivera style mural in their cafeteria. It’s nice.
Then, the shit starts to hit the fan. Dean (Paul Walker) asks Laney to prom, says Zack doesn’t care about her, wrenching her little felafel of a heart in two. Then she finds out about the bet, and it’s a huge bummer situation. There’s a lot of teen angst flying around at this point. We see Laney painting a portrait of herself with clown makeup as a symbolic message of her inner turmoil.
Finally, like an hour and a half into the movie, her dad chimes in and actually contributes to the plot/his daughter’s life. He comes down to the basement, and gives it to her straight. He says that now that she’s got short hair and looks cute, she needs to take advantage because there’s only one Freddie Prinze Jr. and he’s hot shit and she needs to wake up and get with the program. He also says she can’t keep putting her life on hold, blah blah. Announcing her date is upstairs, she gets all excited because she thinks it’s FP but it’s just stupid Dean. “You don’t trust me, and I respect that.” That’s literally Dean’s ‘come hither’ line. Zack takes his sister to prom, in classic good guy fashion. Shot of Taylor sitting alone at her house.
Now we’re at prom! Prom is a sea of gold lights and choreographed dancing (led by Usher)!! It looks like a Ricky Martin video in there. Which, compared to my senior prom at a Jewish Community center, and the year before at a Marriott, let’s just say it doesn’t quite have the high school ring of truth to it. Funny side note- the guy who had to eat pubes took a blow up doll to prom. There’s someone for everyone. In the men’s room Dean claims he is going to have sex with Laney that night- and twist! Her best friend was in the stall and heard the whole thing. Busted! But he can’t find her! And now they’re announcing Prom King and Queen! Laney doesn’t win, so she leaves with Dean.
Zack Attack! He gets in his yellow jeep once again to save the day. He goes on a virgin hunt. He ends up at Laney’s house and she tells him all about her night, then they go outside by the pool and MAKEOUTMAKEOUTMAKEOUT!!!! Ugh, but not before a speech about how she’s his best friend, and she taught him he didn’t have to have all the answers, blahhhh. He even says, “Can I have the last dance?” It’s like they knew I was watching! (Save the Last Dance the night before). Also of course her backyard is a sea of vine roses and Christmas lights. It’s so romantic it prompts Laney to confide in Zack, “I feel just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. You know except for the whole hooker thing.”
Thennnn they make out. FINALLY jeez.
In the last scene we find out the wager for the bet was that Zack had to accept his diploma naked. Haha, those kids they’re so whimsical and funny! They play ‘Kiss Me’ again, credits, 1999 for the win. And that’s She’s All That.