Saturday, March 14, 2015
SHE'S ALL THAT (1999)
Directed By: Robert Iscove
Written By: R. Lee Fleming Jr.
Cinematography By: Francis Kenny
Editor: Casey O. Rohrs
Music By: Stewart Copeland
Cast: Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachel Leigh Cook, Paul Walker, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Dule Hill, Gabrielle Union, Tamara Mello, Lil’ Kim, Kieran Culkin, Eldon Henson, Anna Paquin, Matthew Lillard, Kevin Pollack, Chris Owen, Usher Raymond, Clea Duvall, Debbi Morgan, Tim Matheson, Alexis Arquette, Sara Rivas, Katherine Towne, Milo Ventimiglia, Ashlee Levitch, Flex Alexander
A modern-day version of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, where Zack Siler, is a Los Angeles high school hunk who's been dumped by his popular, but mean-spirited, girlfriend Taylor Vaughn for a famous volleyball player. Frustrated, Zack accepts a bet from his friends that he can turn Laney Boggs, a geeky girl into the school's prom queen. Naturally he falls in love with her which leads to other complications from each other's friends and enemies alike.
This is a film I consider a guilty pleasure as I know I shouldn't like it, but I do while I can point out it's flaws. This film was the last to have been reviewed by Gene Siskel. He gave it a favorable review.
I believe the film represents not only a teenage fantasy that in spirit all of us desire new and old, but for me a certain kind of nostalgia as where films could be Nasty yet managed to have a certain naive charm and innocence that tried to generalize yet stayed just entertainment. It also instantly brings me back to a certain time and place in my life and the culture that was around at the time. For that the film will always strike a certain chord. While being basic teen popcorn blockbuster entertainment.
The film has a pretty basic premise that wallows in teen movie cliches with the artistic nerdish girl who is secretly beautiful but it takes a makeover of letting her hair down and taking off her glasses to show her physical beauty and the school falls at her feet. It is a retelling of Pygmalian that is like a non-musical version of the last time the tale was adapted for a film MY FAIR LADY
Which helps explain why there is a Usher infused choreographed dance sequence at the prom that takes up a few minutes of screen time to count as a full sequence in itself. The Prom dancing sequence originally wasn't scripted and wasn't going to be filmed. It was added in at the last minute to make the movie go a few extra minutes. Which makes the film more noteworthy in the end. With a spectacular sequence that while totally false adds to the ridiculous fun.
The film passes by easily and is occasionally engaging and even funny, yet falls flat a few times due to gags more than story.
This film played at the theater i worked at and I watched it quite a few times. Which might explain my admiration for it. As this was one of the first major film me and my coworkers got obsessed with and discussed at length. In more glowing terms.
In a 2013 interview, M. Night Shyamalan claimed to have ghostwritten the script. Fleming has denied this
The film is good as long as you know what to expect and what you are in for. It's a teen movie aimed at teens though can easily Play for all ages as a reality based fantasy.
Kevin Pollack is hilarious in his supporting role as the hard bitten lovable yet clueless father. He is also one of the few adult actors or characters in the film. The rest of the film is filled with a cast of who's who at the time of up and coming actors.
Kevin Pollak is repeating the ongoing joke, which is about guessing wrong in jeopardy all the time. He originally did this in Truth or Consequences, N.M.
Of course the film floats to exaggeration at times, but slowly comes back to more stable ground itself before it drifts off too far.
I'll admit with this film at the time I was hoping for another teen film resurgence that happened but never as big as it once was as most of the actors in these films were in their 20's and soon graduated to roles of their actual age. As lead Freddie Prinze Jr's stardom lasted long as these movies still made bank. Though the quality not only began to go down, but as the actors got older the films became reworked versions of teen films only with them as older characters. That works more in high school but as into adulthood feels more silly and hollow.
It did popularize Rachel Leigh cook for a bit before she never really followed up with a hot as big. Nor a noteworthy role as popular. Which is a shame as she is what helps this film work and be likeable.
Rachael Leigh Cook's character's name, Laney Boggs, is a combination of the names of two characters played by Winona Ryder: Kim Boggs in Edward Scissorhands and Lelaina "Laney" Pierce in Reality Bites. This is an apparent nod to Cook's and Ryder's physical resemblance.
Jodi Lyn O'Keefe is hilarious in her supporting role and seemed to really get mileage out of these films as she played the same hilarious type only with more physical comedy in the similar WHATEVER IT TAKES
Watching this film now it feels as with each scene it seeks to crops things off its checklist as far as clichés and tropes. That it must complete
This film also has a hit soundtrack, That was quite popular and can admit like the film. I fell under it’s charm.
This film seemed to be part of the beginning of a new teen renaissance of films. That seemed to hit once I was at the end or coming to the end of my teen years and was frustrated at the few offerings for my generation that we had to look back on the teen films of yesteryear or at least a decade before us. I was still open to these films once they came out though I was aged out of them. Though they seemed to work like producer Ryan Murphy programs (GLEE, NIP/TUCK) original thought provoking by trying to skew the stereotypical set-up, shocking and good at the beginning, but then goes downhill quick relying too much on formula never feeling organic.
This is also a high school that could only exist on film as there seems to be rarely a class and the students seem more in power then the faculty. Though the power of casting seems to have put every somewhat name actor they could find who still resembled a teenager.
They also seemed to lose any shred of sincerity and felt more like products and advertising. Not even trying to hide the facts that they seemed like showcases for soundtracks more than anything else.
Actors like Jason Biggs and Freddie Prinze Jr, Julia Stiles seemed to specialize in these films or maybe more for the age group requirement. As stiles seemed to graduate at first to more serious roles as a teenager or more dramatic teen films. Not all of these teenage films were bad but the genuine good were few and far in between and only specifically stood out in the audiences mind. Though some failed and weren't discovered until DVD. In Fact Rachel Leigh Cook gained notoriety but seemed to hightail it away from teen films after this. Even though she wasn’t really aged out of them.
The generation before that teen movie resurgence had more product and a special erg of sorts in John Hughes. This next generation never had one and this generation while it is slowly starting to have their own comeback of titles and unusually strong films. More based in young adult novels that have been proven to have a fan base and built in audience. They aren't all blockbuster or even great in quality, but they are making more money than ever before. They are also landing. Budgets in the higher stratosphere of hundreds of millions and creating franchises. Rather than just being a one shot. Creating stars once again. I have to say even the ones that are not franchises and are more on the dramatic side are truly impressive (PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, THE SPECTACULAR NOW)
This is one of the films that set up and continued the traditions from the previous generations films values. That helped to define the new crop with additions of their own. --Not groundbreaking entertainment in it's own right. That will appeal to a younger generation though dated and corny already.