It feels like just yesterday I first brought home my rented VHS copy of 1999’s She’s All That. It was an hour and a half spent swooning over Freddie Prinze Jr.’s boy-next-door charm and Paul Walker’s bad boy appeal.
With today marking the teen rom-com’s 15th anniversary, I must confess it still holds a place in my list of favourite movies.
Chockful of your typical high school stereotypes, the movie follows Zack Siler, the hot and popular jock who takes on a bet to turn nerdy and awkward art student, Laney Boggs, into the prom queen.
Yes, you’re right: it is pretty cheesy. But let’s all remember that this was a product of the nineties, and no one did cheese like this decade. Besides, it’s just one of the many factors that made the movie so great!
On the surface, it’s just another movie where the girl (who isn’t bad looking to start with) has to change her appearance to please a guy, but arguably it’s deeper than that (as deep as 90’s teen movies can go, anyways). Laney and Zack end up changing each other beyond the superficial; he encourages her to open up and let people in, and she opens his eyes on how he can become a better person.
Everything about the film just worked and it’s all thanks to its young cast. As Zach and Laney, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachel Leigh Cook just had so much chemistry together that it was on-screen gold. It must’ve also helped that we all had crushes on Freddie at one point or another. The movie also featured some other great names, including Kieran Culkin (Scott Pilgrim), Dulé Hill (Psych) — who I think was a bit underrated as Preston — Anna Paquin (True Blood), Lil’ Kim (yes, that Lil’ Kim) and, of course, Paul Walker, who passed away in November.
Also making brief appearances were Usher (the school’s DJ) and Sarah Michelle Geller, Prinze’s future wife. (Another fun fact: the school set was the same one used by Geller’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Talk about a twist of fate.)
On another level, She’s All That was just so fun and memorable. Who could forget Freddie Prinze Jr.’s “Hack. E. Sack. improvised performance art? Or the choreographed prom dance number to Fatboy Slim’s ”Rockafeller Skank.” This will forever be one of the greatest dance moments in cinematic history and no one can convince me otherwise. It’s probably the only choreographed dance number that provides the audience an explanation as to why everyone knows the dance: Usher the DJ taught them.
And of course, no great movie is complete without a great script and She’s All That had just that. Complete with funny one-liners, the script, which was ghost-written by The Sixth Sense’s M. Night Shyamalan, managed to perfectly use and slightly exaggerate popular 90’s lingo. It was over-the-top yet oh-so witty.
Now let’s all take a moment to swoon over one of my favourite Zack Siler lines: