Where do I begin? There was this rather formulaic movement that started in the 1990’s and continued to just a few years ago. It was certainly that generation’s version of Animal House. Every generation has them. They typically star teen idols or up and coming young stars and where my generation often placed them in college, these films were all about high school. They tend to take advantage of the cool trends of the time from the present pop culture to the style of music. The problem with these kinds of films is that they seldom have staying power and almost never translate to the next generation in either direction. A good example of this rule has to be She’s All That.
At the time of its release in 1999, the film became quite hot. It yanked in over $60 million at the box office and became the fodder for teenage giggles and dates. Now we find the film making another generation jump into Blu-ray and high definition. But this might be one jump that just misses its mark. I freely admit I was never in the film’s target audience either then or now. If you were a teen then, you might still have fond memories of this one. I just don’t think those memories are going to be quite so magical this time around.
Let’s get to the cookie-cutter plot. Zach (Prinze, Jr.) is the proverbial “big man on campus”. He’s the star athlete, and he’s dating the hottest and hippest girl on campus, Taylor (O’Keefe). They are a lock to become the king and queen of the upcoming prom. That is until Spring Break where Taylor meets up with a Real World star and gets a little sidetracked from Zach. She breaks up with him the first day back from school. Zach wants to keep a brave face and declares that Taylor was only the “it” girl because he made her. He declares he can make any girl on campus the prom queen. That’s when his friend Dean (Walker) suggests the obviously least likely to fill the role: Laney (Cook). You can pretty much fill in the blanks from there. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl when she finds out about the bet. Boy wins girl back.
Freddie Prinze Jr. is too old for the part. He should have stopped playing high school students years earlier. He might have been only 24 when the film was made, but he looks 30 here, while Rachael Leigh Cook actually looks much younger than her age here. So, right from the beginning this feels a little creepy. I felt like I was watching some 30-year-old making on to a girl who looked 13. The two were obviously cast for their own looks and emerging teen popularity. But there’s no chemistry at all between them, and there isn’t anything in this film that can substitute for what isn’t there.
Of course, the teens in 1999 weren’t interested in chemistry between the leads. They were looking for crazy antics, teen angst, and a little anti-authority in their entertainment. Not much different from any other generation. But just like your parents can’t groove to your music, they can’t handle your adolescent comedies either. When I look at She’s All That, I see cliché piled upon cliché. It’s 21st century corn or slapstick. It’s your version of The Three Stooges, but with far less lasting power. Honestly, it was hard for me to get through it. And there lies the serious dilemma. To some, this is a defining icon of their generation’s good times. To the rest of us it’s a museum piece worth merely the quickest of glances.
She’s All That is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 25-30 mbps. This one shows its age more than most. The print is fine, and you won’t see any artifact or print flaws. It’s just that the picture varies from soft to very glossy. I’m not sure if the variations are intentional, but I don’t see any real creative reason for it. It’s almost as though the film were a product of several prints. That’s often true of very old movies but should not be the case with something this recent. Detail is average some of the time as is black levels. It’s a tremendous upgrade from the DVD, but it’s not as good as it should have been.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is another dialog film with only the slightest use of surround speakers. The music is often a bit too domineering, but that is the style of the time. You can hear the dialog fine, and there aren’t any inherent flaws here.
If you’re looking for a snapshot of what was cool in 1999, this is a great film to watch. If you’re looking to relive your own cool memories from 1999, you already love this film. I’m not sure even you love it enough to upgrade to a Blu-ray. There’s been a flood of these films finally making their way to Blu-ray. “What is this, some kind of dork outreach program?”