She's All That

on January 29, 1999 by Kristan Ginther
   A modern-day Pygmalion for the teen set, "She's All That" takes a fresh approach to the boy meets girl, boy changes girl, girl changes boy scenario. Zach ("I Know What You Did Last Summer's" Freddie Prinze Jr.), the high school's resident hunk, bets his friend Derek (Chris Owen) that he can make any girl popular and furthermore that she will become the senior class prom queen. Derek ups the ante when he chooses Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook), a seemingly nerdy, klutzy, plain-Jane artist, as Zach's prey. It is obvious that Laney is no ugly duckling, and given the proper clothing, hair cut and accessories, she emerges a swan. But problems arise when Zach starts to fall for Laney, much to the dismay of his fellow popular students. Will Laney and Zach's love survive? Where's Professor Higgins when you need him?
   Even though the plot is familiar and you know the ending long before it happens, "She's All That" proves that a story doesn't necessarily have to be original for it to be entertaining. Buoyed by a breakout performance from Cook, the acting is a cut above most teen flicks. "Scream's" Matthew Lillard is hilarious as Brock, an egomaniacal college student who stars on MTV's inane television program "The Real World." Kevin Pollak as Laney's father and the world's worst wannabe "Jeopardy" contestant adds humor and pathos to a role that could have been by-the-numbers. Lee Fleming's hip script avoids cliches--the siblings in the movie actually get along and standard high school characters are kept to a minimum. Starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook and Anna Paquin. Directed by Robert Iscove. Written by Lee Fleming. Produced by Peter Abrams, Richard N. Gladstein and Robert L. Levy. A Miramax release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, crude humor, brief strong language and teen drinking. Running time: 97 min
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