She's All That
More than any magazine article or Entertainment Tonight piece ever could, the arrival of She's All That confirms the resurgence of teen movies. Ushered in by Scream and its horror ilk, the teen movie in its most unadulterated form seemed on the verge of returning with the release of last year's Can't Hardly Wait. But, by trying to fit in every familiar high-school-movie trope, that film seemed too self-conscious and mannered in its attempts at resuscitating the golden age of attractive angst and voluminous tit jokes. By contrast, She's All That, like so many teen movies before it, seems to have been carelessly tossed together over the course of a couple of weekends, making it much more like the real thing. Hunky soccer and hackysack enthusiast Freddie Prinze Jr. stars as the most popular boy in school, who, after being unceremoniously dumped by his icy girlfriend for a former cast member of The Real World (Matthew Lillard) in the final weeks before graduation, takes his friends up on the Pygmalion-inspired bet that he can turn any girl into the prom queen. They choose the Daria-esque Rachael Leigh Cook, whose greatest faults seem to be that she wears glasses, likes art, and, you know, cares about stuff. Before long, however, Prinze has her donning contacts and slinky dresses and strutting her stuff in a way that seems to say to the world, "Yes, I am all that," at least until she discovers the wager and trouble rears its ugly (and presumably glasses-wearing) head. Even ignoring the central flaw that the unappealing Cook never seems the least bit awkward—and makes the transition from geek to shallow, popular girl with all the difficulty of the proverbial hot knife through butter—She's All That has more than its share of problems. For one, the likable Prinze always seems too smart and sincere to take the wager seriously. For another, there's the fact that Cook's efforts to become prom queen—a struggle the film treats with the sort of epic intensity usually reserved for subjects like the siege of Troy, and which inspires not only campaign posters and buttons, but also impromptu schoolyard rap songs—may as well take place on Mars. But you have to give She's All That points for unironically staying true to its genre in its purest form, one Kevin Williamson-like bit of dialogue aside. Of course, this also means that, with bit parts by Lil' Kim and Usher, a prom scene involving an intricately choreographed dance set to "The Rockafeller Skank," and a title with a cultural shelf life considerably shorter than The Happening, Lambada, or It's Trad, Dad!, it should look hilariously dated in a matter of minutes.