Movie Review By Erik Petersen
I was prepared to dismiss "She's All That" as another generic, simpleminded teen farce but I was pleasantly surprised. Directed by Robert Iscove in his feature film debut, it stars Freddie Prinze Junior from "I Know What You Did Last Summer" in the lead role of Zack Siler, class president and all around stud. Rachel Leigh Cook plays the nerdy Laney Boggs, the focus of Zack's attention. Both Cook and Prinze previously appeared in the offbeat indie film "The House of Yes."
The movie is set in the affluent Harrison High in Southern California where the kids all have cell phones, drive expensive cars and live in big houses, all except for the troubled Laney Boggs. Laney helps her goofy dad, played with a lot of charm by Kevin Pollak, manage the house since her mother died. The plot is reminiscent of the John Hughes movies of the eighties like "Pretty In Pink" and "Sixteen Candles" as well as Amy Heckerling's more recent "Clueless."
Although we've seen the story before it's hard not to like this film. Matthew Lillard in particular is hilarious as the obnoxious Brock Hudson, fictitious star of MTV's "Real World" who seems suspiciously similar to the nefarious Puck. His solo dance performance is a great bit of physical comedy. The clever spoofing of MTV's "Spring Break" and "The Real World" provide some of the films best moments.
All of the acting is pretty good, Kieran Culkin does a nice job as the awkward Simon Boggs. Even the stars better known for their music than their acting don't do anything to embarrass themselves. Lil' Kim, one of Puff Daddy's Family makes her film debut and is virtually a non-entity on the screen. R&B star Usher Raymond is adequate in his role as the gossipy school d.j.
Unfortunately the talents of Anna Paquin are totally wasted. Paquin, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1993 for her role in Jane Campion's "The Piano", is relegated to a minor role. As Zack's sister Mackenzie she gets to apply the make-up to Laney for her big coming out.
"She's All That" is an old story but it's been cleverly repackaged with some talented young actors and a good soundtrack. Like a familiar roller coaster, you know where it's going but the ride is still fun.
© 1999 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 1/27/99
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