There are plenty of worthwhile teen romance comedies that play doggedly by the rulebook: Say Anything, Can’t Hardly Wait, Ten Things I Hate About You, Pretty In Pink, even Grease. But it is possible that none has ever hewn quite so closely to the blueprint as She’s All That (1999), a romp so rote, so eager to conform, and so deeply unambitious that it becomes, beautifully, its own unique object: the lamest teen romcom of all time.
And what a pedigree! Ghostwritten by M. Night Shyamalan. Scored by Stewart Copeland. Medium-to-tiny support roles from Anna Paquin, Usher, the late Paul Walker, a lesser Culkin, Li’l Kim. The titular ‘she’ portrayed by Rachel Leigh Cook, who has earned a lifetime free pass for starring in the impeccable Josie And The Pussycats. And then weird creepy trashbag Freddie Prinze Jr.
Oh, Freddie. What a dismal Henry Higgins you make, with your anxious eyes and your mouth hanging open. But you are not the ruin of this film. You are the heart of it. Without you peering out through the thick haze of your own dimness, the lockstep progression of this plot could not plausibly take you by surprise. Without your irrepressible smug creepiness, your mistreatment of the young Ms. Doolittle wouldn’t so reliably press the melodrama forward.
Anyway, there is exactly one reason to watch this movie, and it is the heavily choreographed prom dance sequence. It is amazing. And insane. All pretense toward portraying teens in a real-world high school is abandoned for two glorious minutes. It is included here in full, along with the rest of the film distilled to its essential beats.