Miramax // 1999 // 96 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // July 20th, 1999
These two opposites attract...but everyone's trying to keep them apart!
This very predictable film from the folks at Disney could have been better in so many ways, they're hard to count. That said, a terrific character created by Rachael Leigh Cook saves the film.
She's All That is a high school comedy set in California. The plot, which is boringly predictable, tells the story of Zach Siler (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook). Zach is the typical all-everything high school student: intelligent, class president, gifted athlete. Laney is the prototypical loner art student: concerned with weighty matters, withdrawn, overly sophisticated in a reclusive sort of way.
Their paths cross after Zach is dumped by his all everything girlfriend Taylor Vaughan (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe). Zach claims Taylor's popularity is a fiction created by her outwardly appearance and demeanor, and claims to be able to create someone with those qualifications at will. His best friend takes him up on the bet and Laney is chosen as the target.
Naturally, Laney blooms throughout the film into a gorgeous friendly girl -- loved by everyone and nominated for Prom Queen. Typical of a plot this simple, the story is weak where it counts. Virtually nothing is explained to my satisfaction. Things just sort of "happen" by accident. A typical crutch employed by weak writers. At other times, scenes are inserted for no reason, other than a joke or a gag. A perfect example of this scene without a purpose habit is the scene where Zach comes to Laney's little brother's aid in the school cafeteria. Inserted for pure laughs and no other reason, the scene fails even at that.
Prinze (Wing Commander, I Know What You Did Last Summer) does a fine job here creating a likable guy, who is struggling with his own issues. Part of the problem is that his issues are not that debilitating. I would rather see Prinze challenged a bit, although I have no idea whether or not he could handle it. In the end, he is saddled with some very poor writing and weak characterization, although he does a fine job with what he is given.
Cook (The Baby-sitters club, Carpool), on the other hand, does an outstanding job with what she is handed. I realize this is little more than Prinze, but I believe she got closer to her character's essence. She makes a decent transformation from wallflower to semi-wild rose. I would like to see her with some more meaty material before passing final judgment on her ability as an actor, but she showed some hints at being very capable. Maybe the next heir to the Winona Ryder throne, since Ryder hasn't made a good character choice since The Age of Innocence.
Typical of Disney, this transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, but lacks the clarity of anamorphic enhancement. As a result, the video here is a bit grainy and soft at times and black level suffers a bit too. However, color saturation is generally pretty good, and flesh tones are right on. Disney has said they will support anamorphic "sometime soon" and this new round of releases only makes me wonder when? When will we begin to see the type and quality of releases we deserve to see from a video powerhouse like Disney? That is unquestionably the one question on every DVD enthusiasts' mind right now. My only answer is the sooner the better.
The audio here has two main problems. The first is pretty obvious. The labeling on this package claims a 5.1 audio track. Unfortunately the disc has only a 2.0 track. Disney is aware of the problem and has owned up to the mistake and claims to be remastering the disc. They have not announced whether a recall and replace effort will be made and I doubt they will go that far. The sound here, in general, is not that bad, notwithstanding this mistake.
However, there is one glaring audio problem I noticed. Check chapter 4 at bout 17:30. When Taylor Vaughan is walking down the street and talking with her girlfriends. I noticed a blatant spot where a synch issue was present. I am 100% sure this problem is not with my player and 90% sure it is not a problem with the disc mastering process. On the contrary, I believe this problem stems from a very poor postproduction overdub, where our actor went into a studio recording booth and tried to match what she saw on the screen. The end result is a pretty poor example of this process.
Lastly, the extras here are very weak. The only real extra included is a music video of the theme song of the film. Sixpence None The Richer performs "Kiss Me." Disney did not even include talent bios here, which would have been nice, to say the least.
This film is not bad, but it certainly is not good either. Rent before you buy on this one. Even then, you've probably seen this plot at least five or six times during the '80s anyway. Unless you've got a thing for Freddie Prinze, Jr. or Rachael Leigh Cook, I would stay away all together.
Guilty. The film is guilty of re-hashing an unoriginal plot. Disney is guilty of weak anamorphic transfers and discs with no extras. The only two things associated with this disc are Rachael Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinze, Jr. in that order.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Music Video