He’s All That Review: Love Is Dead



A bonding scene with the two leads that totally doesn’t feel forced.

Gavin Clingham, Staff Writer

Sorry, I know the title is a bit harsh but, after sacrificing my sleep and maybe a small portion of my sanity, it’s justified. It took me both After movies and He’s All That to come to the conclusion that romance is dead and Netflix may have killed it. 

I mean, I’ve reached my breaking point for tolerating the mere existence of these lazy, hashed rom-coms that aren’t really funny and sure don’t even try to be romantic. With this quick, viewer-hungry slog, I was not even a little bit invested. I initially expected it to be a travesty, but then my expectations were not that low when I heard that it wasn’t the worst thing to ever exist. After watching it, I can tell you with complete confidence that it isn’t the worst movie in the world (Cats will hold that trophy forever) but it is definitely the worst rom-com I’ve ever seen (After is just a “romance” drama so Hes All That earns the spot). 

He’s All That follows the poorly named Padgett (Addison Rae), a heavily followed influencer who is all about makeovers and taking care of her hardworking mother (Rachael Leigh Cook). As she goes to surprise her boyfriend (Peyton Meyer) with her friends Quinn (Myra Molloy) and Alden (Maddison Pettis), she discovers that he’s cheating on her. As she sees this, she freaks out on him while Alden is still streaming the footage to Instagram live. As Padgett’s freakout is broadcast, she loses many of her followers and her sponsorships. In a last-minute dash to get it all back, she makes a bet with her friends that she can turn the biggest loser Cameron (Tanner Buchanan) into the school’s prom king (because the best way to solve a 20-year-old movie’s sexist issues is to do it the other way around). 

To start off, I have to criticize the one major thing that was a massive concern for this movie: can Addison Rae, a TikTok personality, act? The answer for me is no. I know it’s a little odd to be going after one actor’s acting ability, but it’s just such a standout issue for me. The only times her lines felt slightly natural were when she was acting like she was an influencer. Every other time, her emotions were never present, her eyes were more dead than Sonny Corleone (a character who was shot more than 40 times), and she seemed like she was confused in every scene she was in. She just sounded like her character woke up from a 20-year coma and was trying to figure out how the world had changed. Yes, it’s odd to criticize one actress. However, she literally wasn’t cast because she auditioned or proved that she had raw acting talent. She was chosen because she had 84.4 million viewers on TikTok. It just bothers me that they drove Addison Rae to the front of the line when there were both well known and even struggling actors who were in that line. 

Next is something that I was surprised to be upset about. This film had to have racked no more than $50 million based on all the product placement in it. Normally, I don’t mind product placement if it’s done subtly but apparently. This movie, however, was pretty much just 90 minutes of YOU WANNA BUY AN OOEY GOOEY SAVORY PIZZA FROM PIZZA HUT. While they only blatantly gave shout-outs to products a few times, there were still unsubtle products being displayed. Characters were holding Dorito bags directly towards the camera even if they were turned to the side, Core water bottles were constantly moved around so the bottles would face the camera even if they were in another direction for one shot, and products would be placed in even if it didn’t make any sense. At one point, Cameron’s sister is on the computer looking at the logo of Old Navy. There isn’t even a website, it’s just Old Navy. I’ve somehow tolerated product placement in other movies but there is just so much in this film that it broke me. At least the filmmakers and producers can retire after getting so much sponsor money.

Just a little look to how annoying the product placement is in this film. (bustle.com)

The writing is also surprisingly bad. At first I thought the writing and the directing would be acceptable because this movie was written by the original writer of She’s All That (R. Lee Fleming Jr.) and it was directed by the director of Mean Girls (Mark Waters) but both roles fail. The screenplay has “out of touch” written all over it. The incorporation of social media is not well done, so many lines are just embarrassing to even hear, and pretty much every attempt at humor falls flat in this movie (except for every line that came out of Matthew Lillard’s mouth). It just feels like such a lazy hashed out screenplay that never made me interested at any moment. There are also some really strange directing choices in this film. Nearly every shot is somewhat shaky no matter what’s going on and that somehow really throws me off. There are also so many quick edits that kind of give you a small headache. Plus, throughout the movie, the director tries putting the camera in the trunk of Cameron’s car to seem creative but I could never figure out what the point of the shot was. It’s just a camera in the trunk of a truck. And together, both the screenwriter and the director came together to conceive one of the worst scenes I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It may not be the complete worst scene ever conceived but it is the worst dance-off ever put to film. With a combination of quick cuts, painfully obvious dance choreography, and a runtime that goes on a lot longer than it ever needed to, you receive a scene that is the sum of all my nightmares. 

Still image of the couple horse back riding because why not. (thehollywoodreporter.com)

One of the other biggest failures of this movie was trying to make the relationship between Cameron and Padgett feel realistic. The whole thing just feels like Cameron didn’t like Padgett and was a jerk to her, (because as we know all anti-social people are legally monsters), but then all of a sudden she just immediately flipped a switch and she became all he could think about. There is absolutely no clear turning point in the movie and the two leads don’t even seem to make it that convincing. There are also so many desperate attempts to try and punch viewers in the gut to make them sad but it just feels like a light breeze. There is no good reason to care about a relationship if the reason they should be together is nonexistent. That’s exactly what I hated about After and now this movie. Plus, the film has another romance side plot that just gets totally underdeveloped and pushed to the side when really, that one would’ve actually been a more romantic storyline. But it just gets so lost in this movie that it doesn’t even fit. 

So I don’t want to be incredibly obvious, but this is a bad movie. It doesn’t succeed in anything that it sets out to achieve and just feels like nothing even happened. The only thing I got from this movie was an understanding of how annoying this film really is. If someone recommends this film to you, definitely go watch Silver Linings Playbook because that literally achieves everything this film tried to be. It’s deeply romantic in a surprising way, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, the lead performances are inspirational, the writing is both sharp and original, and it’s an overall entertaining film that I’d be more than happy to watch again. The only two circumstances I would ever watch He’s All That again would be if I was forced to watch it over Cats or if it was just a cut of all of Matthew Lillard’s scenes.