A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that She's All That is a 1999 teen movie in which the most popular guy in school makes a bet that he can turn an unpopular girl into the prom queen. There's some bullying, including a disgusting scene involving a boy reaching into the crotch of his pants, pulling out pubic hair, and sticking it on a slice of pizza in the cafeteria. The ex-girlfriend of the lead male character verbally bullies those around her, but suffers the consequences of her actions. Teens drink at a party -- a girl is shown in the bathroom hanging off the toilet and vomiting before passing out. There's talk of casual sex and sexual innuendo, plus regular use of profanity, including one use of "f--k." Cigarette smoking is seen, and teens talk of looking for "ass to tap" and about how it has been a while "since you've gotten any."
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What's the story?
SHE'S ALL THAT kicks off with Zach (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), the most popular and talented boy in high school, getting dumped by his beautiful but mean girlfriend. She has met an MTV celebrity (Matthew Lillard). Zach and his best friend bet that he can take any girl in school and get her elected prom queen before the end of school. The choice is drab Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook), who is coping with her mother's death by taking care of her father and brother and by worrying about problems throughout the world instead of working through her own feelings of loss. Laney is one of the least persuasive ugly ducklings in the history of movies. She shucks her glasses and her overalls, and my goodness! She's beautiful! And my goodness! Zach finds himself actually caring for her.
Is it any good?
The movie's not all that bad, though the plot is almost numbingly predictable. She's All That falls smack dab in the middle of the "makeover movie" genre, in which Our Heroine achieves success through good grooming and accessorizing. The result here is uneven, with some good performances and even some witty commentary on teen culture, but beware: The raunchy references make this inappropriate for younger teens, and even parents of mature high schoolers might want to consider it carefully.
One of the movie's strengths is that it makes clear that Zach and Laney have both limited themselves by defining themselves before they have really had a chance to find out who they are. The movie's other strengths are Prinze, who has a wonderful screen presence, and the magnificent Anna Paquin as his younger sister. Cook's performance is flat by comparison. Jodi Lyn O'Keefe is a caricature as Zach's former girlfriend, but Matthew Lillard is hilarious as a self-obsessed gross-out champion based on MTV's legendary Puck.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about teen movies. How does this compare to other teen movies?
What aspects of the movie make it a "'90s teen movie"? How have teen movies changed over the years?
How were issues like bullying, cliques, fitting in, etc. addressed? Was the movie realistic? Why or why not?
- In theaters: January 29, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: July 13, 1999
- Cast: Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard, Paul Walker, Rachael Leigh Cook
- Director: Robert Iscove
- Studio: Miramax
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language and sexual references
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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