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Movies

Review: She's not necessarily 'All That'

Web posted on:
Wednesday, February 03, 1999 11:17:26 AM EST

From Reviewer Paul Tatara

(CNN) -- Man, do I feel old. Now that Jennifer Love Hewitt is getting more mileage out her breasts than any American this side of Frank Perdue, the film industry has started hitting us with a barrage of movies starring hugely popular, good looking kids who I've never even heard of.

I'm not alone in this, either. I'm sure a lot of 30- to 50-somethings out there haven't got a clue who this galoot is who recently turned "Varsity Blues" into such an unexpected moneymaker. Though probably best described as "a cute guy with two arms and two legs," he's nevertheless a certifiable cash cow in poster-boy clothing. Think Bobby Sherman with Nintendo calluses on his thumbs and you've got the general idea.

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Female teen icons, of course, have to have two invitingly substantial body parts outside of mere limbs if you wanna fill the theater with leering hormone manufacturers, so "She's All That," features Rachael Leigh Cook (never heard of her) as that favorite of all teen movie protagonists, the nerdy girl who turns out to be really, really hot when she takes off her glasses and gets her hair cut.

Freddie Prinze, Jr., and now I feel even older, plays the Big Man on Campus who suddenly loses his sex-kitten girlfriend (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, convincing, but not as a high schooler) to a self-obsessed bozo (Matthew Lillard) who appears on MTV's "The Real World." In order to show his friends that he doesn't really need his old squeeze, Prinze bets them that he can turn any other girl in the school into a prom queen. Cook is chosen because she's kinda gloomy and paints death-themed canvases in her basement, in lieu of getting drunk and having sex on weekends like everyone else.

Prinze then enlists his knowing sister (Anna Paquin) to help transform Cook into a corn-fed version of Famke Janssen, and the rain in Spain, as you may have already heard, stays mainly in the plain.

How can I really tell you if this is any good? Director Robert Iscove isn't really taxing his imagination, but that's probably just as well. There's the occasional snippet of amusing dialogue, a couple of prerequisite school cliques, and the tender/sweet/unbelievable romance between the two leads. Prinze is just sort of adorable in that arms-and-legs way, but Cook shows real flashes of pizzazz when she mocks the other kids' pretensions. She's unbelievably gorgeous, too, but hell, so is everybody else at her school. Half the girls look like they just strolled in off the stage of an Atlanta strip club.

There are a couple of non-excruciating supporting performances from Paquin and Kevin Pollak as Cook's pool-cleaning, "Jeopardy"-watching dad, but the edge of my seat didn't exactly get worn out from my trying to edge closer to the drama. This is an honest attempt at a 1990s version of a John Hughes movie, and that's more than I can say for most of this kind of stuff. I'll tell you what, though, I bet it doesn't do wonders for the optometry industry when these young girls turn into Wonder Bra models simply by tossing the specs and standing up straight.

Don't believe it, kids. You also need an agent.


If you stop to think about it, "She's All That" is actually "Carrie" minus the carnage. I wouldn't blame you at all, though, if you didn't stop to think about it. There's some sex, casual teen drinking, a devastating fart joke, and some strong language. "I HEAR THE APOCALYPSE" DIALOGUE: At one point, a young man has reason to shout, "Rectal archaeology -- very nice!" Rated PG-13. 97 minutes.

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