With the success of teen slasher movies such as Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, it seemed Hollywood had turned away from romantic teen comedies. But She’s All That (Miramax), a sweet and funny high school love story, revisits the neglected genre of Cinderella story lines.
She’s All That could be described as My Fair Lady meets Clueless. The movie stars Freddie Prinze Jr. (I Know What You Did Last Summer) as Zack, the “big man on campus” at an upscale Los Angeles high school. The captain of the soccer team, an honors student, the dream guy of all the girls – Zack seems to have it all. But life is not as perfect as it seems.
After his girlfriend dumps him, Zack bets his best friend Dean (Paul Walker, Varsity Blues) that he can turn the school’s geekiest girl, Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook, Living Out Loud), into a prom queen in six weeks. The intention of the wager is to prove that beauty is only about attitude and makeup, and with a little effort, even the dorkiest girl can be transformed into a beauty queen.
What starts as a simple bet turns into a love story as Zack becomes attracted to Laney, who, after a few makeup sessions, is gorgeous.
The transformation of Laney from an antisocial, disheveled girl to a prom queen resembles the Eliza Doolittle metamorphosis undergoes in My Fair Lady, but with the style and flair of the girls from Clueless. Cook portrays the role with innocence. In the beginning of the film, she is convincing as an unapproachable outcast. But as the story unfolds, Cook transforms Laney into a believable charming belle.
The real star of the film, however, is Prinze. With a commendable on-screen presence, he creates a likable and engaging character. Cook and Prinze have a wonderful chemistry that forces the audience to root for their romance. The relationship between Zack and Laney is formulaic and the outcome is predictable, but the actors’ chemistry holds the audience’s interest.
The supporting cast adds to the upbeat feel of the film. Oscar- winner Anna Paquin (The Piano), Kevin Pollak (Usual Suspects) and Matthew Lillard (Scream) have only small parts, but they portray their characters well and give the film momentum.
The film’s most memorable scene occurs near the end. At the prom, a well-orchestrated dance scene reminds viewers of the fancy footwork of such films as Grease and Footloose. Although the scene is short, the image created by the synchronized dance moves is captivating and creates a dynamic moment.
She’s All That epitomizes the traditional light-hearted teen comedy of the 1980s. With an attractive cast and interesting plot, it is a charming movie that delivers the expected – a fairy tale love story that makes viewers smile.