I'll name the girl, and you have six weeks to make her prom queen.
Step right up boys and girls of the Baby Boom Echo! You may not be old enough to drive or vote yet, but you have certainly given Hollywood a run for its money in the past year with your ever-expanding spending power. Thanks to the wallets of 10-16 year olds everywhere, the face of entertainment is changing in this country. On television, the Warner Brothers network is posting growth in viewership, thanks to a number of hit shows aimed at your demographic, such as "Dawson's Creek" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". In movie theaters across the country, members of your demographic have made hits out of "Scream 2", "Ever After", "The Waterboy", "Titanic", "The Rugrats Movie", and "There's Something About Mary". And with your numbers expected to grow over the next five to ten years, you certainly will be a key consumer segment to be reckoned with. Even better, the Hollywood studios have learned that they do not have to spend lavish amounts in marketing to you, since word-of-mouth is powerful enough to convince you to part with your discretionary income, and sometimes even repeatedly for the same movie over and over again.
In order to show their appreciation for your continued support, the creatively bankrupt folks at Miramax Films have plundered the back-catalog of old movies in order to come up with something fresh that will hopefully keep you coming back. This time around, it's "She's All That", a stylish romantic comedy that essentially places "My Fair Lady" into a high school setting. And while it manages to occasionally register on the radar screens during its hour-and-a-half running time, "She's All That" winds up being a formulaic and uninteresting piece of fluff.
What is this? Some kind of new dork outreach program?
It's springtime at William Henry Harrison High School, your prototypical Southern California high school where the students drive better cars and wear more expensive clothes than their teachers. Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr. of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and its vapid sequel) is school president, the most popular guy in class, Ivy League-bound, and is expected to become prom king. The only problem is that Taylor Vaughan (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe of "Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later"), the prom queen to-be and top-tier hotty of Harrison High, has just dumped him for a self-absorbed cast member from MTV's "The Real World" (Matthew Lillard of "Scream").
Feeling the sting of pride, he makes a bet with his best friend (Paul Walker) that 'given the right look and the right boyfriend', any girl in the school can be made into a prom queen. Their attention then falls onto Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook), a socially-conscious art student who doesn't like to socialize. With only six weeks to the prom, Zack must win her over and make her into Little Miss Popular. And predictably, as the prom draws closer, Zack realizes that the bet is unimportant as he has truly fallen in love with his 'understudy'.
The best-looking guy in school is stalking you... aren't you the least bit curious?
In addition to "My Fair Lady" (and its source material, George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion"), this type of story has been done to death in recent years, including "Clueless" (which was based on Jane Austen's "Emma") and 1987's "Can't Buy Me Love" (members of the Baby Boom Echo should ask their Gen-X siblings about this one). This time around, "She's All That" brings nothing new to the table other than some freshly-scrubbed teen stars, a catchy soundtrack, and some mildly interesting surrealistic asides (which was the same problem with "Can't Hardly Wait").
You're vapor... spam... a perfectly good waste of yearbook space.
The main problem lies with the film's romantic leads. Unfortunately, there is no chemistry between Prinze and Cook, and as a result, their scenes together seem awkward and lack the requisite 'magic' that would make this formulaic exercise tolerable. Furthermore, while Prinze may look charming, his acting range is limited and it is painfully obvious in this film. As for Cook, while demeanor may call to mind a young Audrey Hepburn, her acting comes across as purely functional, completely lacking any spark or enthusiasm. These shortcomings are also compounded by the vacuous script, which does very little to develop its characters, give them interesting things to say, or elicit humor.
You didn't think you became popular for real, did you? Oh, that's so sweet.
However, for those members of the audience there to see their favorite screen heroes, they certainly won't be disappointed by the virtual 'who's who' of Baby Boom Echo cinema today. In addition to singing sensation Usher Raymond as the school's D.J., Clea Duvall of "The Faculty" playing another (surprise, surprise) goth girl, Elden Henson and Kieran Culkin of "The Mighty" in prominent roles, and Anna Paquin playing a far more wholesome character than she did in "Hurlyburly". Astute viewers will also spot Sarah Michelle Gellar in a brief cameo, since the production of "She's All That" filmed in the same cafeteria used by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". With such an impressively assembled cast, it is a shame that they end up being wasted on such mundane material.
Sometimes, when you open up to people, you let the bad in with the good.
Of course, "She's All That" will still probably make a ton of money, thanks to the support of the Baby Boom Echo. Hopefully, as this demographic group grows older, they will also become wiser, sparing the rest of the moviegoing population from this type of recycled drivel.