I remembered She's All That as being a pretty dumb but generally harmless bit of fluff. The standout scene in my mind, and surely in others', was the big choreographed prom dance to Rockefeller Skank, MC'd by Usher of all people. Other than that, it took up zero space in my memory.
Above - a quick recap of the stakes, brought to you by anonymous rappers and a human beatbox. RIP 1999.
Unfortunately, I've watched it again now, and I can tell you that it is an aggressively stupid and downright rancid bit of scum. After a certain point - maybe 20 or 30 minutes - I found it hard to find any aspect of the movie fun or even harmless. Most of that has to do with the movie's rather toxic attitude towards women.
The bizarre stance that Zack, Paul Walker, and the movie writ large takes on Laney Boggs was already terrifically parodied in Not Another Teen Movie. She's deemed "scary and inaccessible," apparently because she doesn't thrill at the opportunity for attention from popular dullards. (Zack specifically says, "Fat I can handle. Weird boobs, bad personality, maybe some sort of fungus?" The hero, ladies and gentlemen.) To me, she just seems like a generally self-possessed young woman with her own interests and a disdain for people like Zack. The movie takes deep offense to that.
|And punishes her with a falafel hat.|
There's also the confusing conception of what "poor" means. A number of characters engage in light class warfare with Laney, because...her dad owns a small business, she only has 3 stories to her home, and she doesn't have her own car. I'm not saying that there aren't obscenely rich people in high school, or that the obscenely rich people don't sometimes enjoy rubbing their privilege in other people's faces. But the movie never remarks on the rich kids' wealth, only on the "poor" girl's poverty. Wealth is the norm here. It's all just tonally off.
|"Preston's dad owns Harrison Ford!"|
I do still enjoy some elements of She's All That, I suppose. Zack attends an art show that involves an excellent send-up of dense, pretentious performance art (unfortunately, we're then meant to take Zack's hacky sack performance totally seriously as an emotional breakthrough). Dule Hill makes the most of his Token Black Guy role by pretty much staying out of everyone else's bullshit and taking Gabrielle Union to prom. For her own part, Gabrielle Union develops a quietly homoerotic interest in Ms. Boggs - she always expresses genuine delight at Laney's arrival; she abandons campus queen Taylor Vaughan with the terse (but evocative) explanation that "things change"; and she inexplicably nominates Laney for prom queen. A better movie would have explored this tiny hint of a subplot further, but we take what we can get with She's All That.
In the end, unless you're looking for a nostalgic laugh at late 90s fashion and vernacular - "Excuse me, I did not wig." "There was major wiggage." - I wouldn't say this movie has anything to offer you. Well, other than outlandishly mean-spirited sexual politics. But those aren't hard to find in Hollywood.