Is anyone else wondering why Hollywood wants to remake the 1999 Rachael-what-ever-happened-to-her-Leigh-Cook film She’s All That?
I mean, sure, the movie eventually reached No. 1 at the box office, but it wasn’t a critical hit (the film currently has a 38 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and the film’s use of tropes that were tired even in 1999 left audiences bored. I saw the movie when it came out, and even at 19, I could tell I was getting handed a recycled load of lazy BS about a woman’s worth in the world, physical expectations and our cultural obsession with conformity.
For those of you who don’t remember the movie (or perhaps have never even seen it), She’s All That centers on a cocky high-school jock (Freddie Prinze Jr.) who, after being dumped by his completely shallow girlfriend, bets his buddies that he can replace her with any of the girls at school. His best buddy (played by a young Paul Walker) one-ups his claim, challenging him to turn the nerdiest of the nerds into the prom queen. Walker’s character then selects Laney Boggs, played by Cook, and Prinze tries not to faint at the seemingly oh-so-monumental task ahead of him.
Are you bored yet? Yeah, so am I, which is why I’d like to outline the reasons why we don’t need yet another movie about an ugly duckling gal who only needs to take off her glasses and smear on some eyeliner to win the hot jock who couldn’t be bothered to notice her before.
It’s as unoriginal as it gets
Image: Warner Bros. Pictures
She’s All That wasn’t even an original concept when it was current. It’s a ’90s retelling of the classic 1913 play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw — a play that, by the way, has been retold countless other times already. Think My Fair Lady, Pretty Woman, Sabrina, The Princess Diaries, Miss Congeniality, Grease, Maid in Manhattan, My Big Fat Greek Wedding… the list is so long it makes my head spin. And many of these other ugly duckling films tackle the theme of awkward female transformation a lot better than this film did. So why spend money remaking a so-so version of a film hardly anyone remembers about this time-honored theme?
Glasses do not = ugly
Image: Myles Aronowitz/Regency Enterprises
In My Super Ex-Girlfriend (pictured above) Luke Wilson can’t tell mousy Uma Thurman from superhero Uma Thurman because mousy Uma wears glasses and a brown wig (cue eye-roll) — puh-lease! I’m sorry, but if I see one more movie where all a woman has to do to look like a model is ditch her specs, I’ll scream. I wear glasses, and when I take them off to put in my contacts, I do not automatically turn into a sexy goddess. Women who wear glasses aren’t invisible, and the last thing we need is another movie in which contacts are the magic answer to all awkward-girl problems.
Beauty is more than skin deep
Image: Paramount Pictures
Listen, I love Grease every bit as much as all the other musical theater geeks out there do, but let’s be honest about how messed-up the play/movie’s message is. Here’s Sandy, a super-cute, bubbly, sweet young woman who completely changes her look and her principals to bag hot John Travolta. I don’t care if they get to sing “We go together, like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong” in a flying car, changing who you are just to get someone else to love you is lame. It’s also a really outdated message that most storytellers are trying to avoid in the refreshingly pro-women empowerment wave currently visible in Hollywood.
Cinderella, Cinderella, Cinderella
Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Perhaps one of the best movie transformations of all time was just remade, released, and well received — so why do we need to remake a meh ’90s movie that is basically a lamer version of the beloved Cinderella tale? I mean, no prom dress is going to compare to the amazing ball gown Lily James just got to wear, and forget about outdoing Cinderella’s glass slippers. If the goal of She’s All That is to nab the hottie by dressing better and wearing lipstick, I’ve got to say, Cinderella already did it, and she did it better.
It’s a terrible message to send to girls
This film’s target demographic is teenage girls. Why then, when we are so aware of the importance of female empowerment and body acceptance (especially for young girls) would anyone think it’s a good idea to make yet another movie completely invalidating recent body-positive “love yourself, embrace who you are” messaging by bundling the much less healthy “clothes (and contacts) make the woman” message dripping from this ’90s relic?
Image: Granville Pictures Inc.
Not to beat a dead horse, but She’s All That and its endorsement of the ugly duckling trope feels dusty when compared to current trend-breakers like The DUFF, a film that manages to avoid most grimace-inducing teen movie clichés and instead opts for a more empowering message of self-acceptance. When you look at Rachael Leigh Cook’s character compared to that of Mae Whitman‘s, there’s no question which young woman is a follower and which one is a leader. And honestly, I’m much more interested in movies focusing on the latter.