‘He’s All That’ (2021) is not all that bad

It’s not all that good either.

Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae) and Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan) have an intimate moment in “He’s All That”.

Image courtesy of BeautifulBallad

Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae) and Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan) have an intimate moment in “He’s All That”.

Max Vetter, Entertainment Reporter

I’ve got to start by giving a confession… I have no clue who Addison Rae is. Apparently she’s a TikTok personality? I’ve checked out a couple of her videos and it seems her entire career is predicated on suggestively dancing for millions of ogling fans. While there’s nothing wrong with that if she’s happy doing it and not hurting anyone, I’m not really in the target demographic for that kind of content, so I seem to be one of the three people on Earth who went into this movie blind. This is probably for the best, because people on the internet really hate this movie. On the movie review aggregate websites IMDb and Letterboxd, the opinion is overwhelmingly negative. IMDb’s average rating is at 4.3/10, and Letterboxd is even lower, at 1.4/5. My verdict? It could’ve been worse.

The audience reception for “He’s All That” was overwhelmingly negative online. Images courtesy of IMDb and Letterboxd.

If you’re somehow unaware, “He’s All That” is a gender-swapped remake of the 1999 film “She’s All That” (1999) and has the same general premise. Socialite and Instagram influencer Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae) has a major setback when, during a livestream, she finds out that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with a backup dancer from his music video. After getting justifiably angry on stream, she loses everyone’s respect and accepts a challenge from her ludicrously-named friend Alden to turn local loser boy Cameron Kweller into the prom king. As you would expect, romance ensues. At face value, this is not a particularly compelling plot. On further examination, it’s still not deep, but that doesn’t really matter. This is not a good movie, don’t get me wrong, but some people are getting so offended by this movie that I almost feel obligated to defend it, despite not liking it.

But, for the sake of fairness, I will start with the negatives. Firstly, the premise is ludicrous, and clearly shows that the writer had no clue how the internet works. If an Instagram beauty vlogger freaked out on stream because she walked in on her boyfriend actively committing adultery, she would not lose face, followers, or sponsorship deals. In fact, that kind of content is gold, because all of her followers would feel pity for her and angry at the wrong-doers, the drama would bring in more followers, and the increase in audience would attract more sponsorships. Not to mention that the breakdown of Padgett’s well-put-together facade would probably only serve to make her more appealing to her audience, because people crave relatability on the internet, and betrayal is incredibly relatable. 

Aside from the premise, the rest of the film is pretty flimsy as well, mostly because of our male romantic lead, Cameron. Cameron would not be a loser in a modern high school; he’s just a jerk. His interests include photography and horseback riding, both of which are unique and interesting enough that he could probably make plenty of friends if he wanted to. In a scene where the film tries to establish why his taste in movies is weird, his sister comes up with “He’s into Kurosawa, kung-fu and Kubrick”, which is about as strange as saying he likes Tarantino, Spielberg, and spy movies. Since none of his interests actually amount to anything which would make him particularly unpopular, the writers seemed to have assumed that just making him a jerk would do the trick, and, in a way, they’re right. But that might’ve worked too well, because he’s such a jerk that I not only don’t think he could be popular, I also just don’t like him.

Despite all this, I still don’t think this is a truly awful movie. It’s certainly not so-bad-it’s-good like some people insist it is, because I feel like there are still some things which are too unironically good for it to be either. For one, this movie is, on occasion, very cute. There are a couple of little setups and payoffs which actually took me aback because it got me thinking “oh hey, that’s cute, the writers actually cared a little about this movie”. Along with that, there are a couple of scenes involving horses which, while still being helplessly cheesy, did establish some decent romantic chemistry between Padgett and Cameron. I also didn’t hate the visual style. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t “Euphoria” (2019-)—this is “Euphoria”—but the bright colors and constant flurry of emojis did their job: conveying the shallow internet culture that the movie wanted to critique. Oh, and despite what you might expect, Addison Rae isn’t awful! The script certainly doesn’t do her any favors, and she can’t even approach subtlety. However, I still believed that Padgett was a vapid teenager who changed her ways by the end, which is more than I can say for many of this film’s contemporaries. 

Ultimately, “He’s All That”’s biggest sin is that it’s dull. It’s not uniquely vapid in its take on the metamorphosis romcom, but it certainly isn’t exemplary in any way. If you want to have a reason to hate on Addison Rae, this will probably disappoint you; if you want a fun teen movie, this will probably disappoint you; and if you want a bad movie to laugh at with friends, this will probably still disappoint you. You should probably miss it.