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She's All That

Miramax // PG-13 // January 3, 2012
List Price: $14.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted December 27, 2011 | E-mail the Author
"Miramax? I thought they only made classy pictures like The Piano or The Crying Game."
"After they made She's All That, everything went to Hell."

Full disclosure! I'm a hopeless sucker for that wave of teen movies from the tailend of the '90s and the first couple years of the '00s. The aughts. The whatever-you-call-'em. That was true twelve years ago
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when it was kind of age-appropriate for me, and it still is now that I'm old and have a mortgage and the occasional gray hair and stuff. A couple of those flicks have found their way to Blu-ray already, like 10 Things I Hate About You and Can't Hardly Wait, but long last!...the movie that kinda-sorta started it all is coming out in high-def.

Think My Fair Lady for the Mmm-Bop Generation. It's just that this time around, it's not a couple of "confirmed bachelors" in their fifties and sixties dolling up Audrey Hepburn in lavish Edith Head gowns; it's two broseph-y big-men-on-campus types laying down a bet. See, Taylor Vaughn (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe) is supposed to be a lock for prom queen, but her newly-minted ex Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.) shrugs that off. Grab any girl on campus, give her the right look, and pair her with the right dude, and -- flash forward a month and a half! -- she's the one getting a sparkly tiara placed atop her immaculately-coiffed head. Über-bro Dean Sampson (Paul Walker) sez that it's a bet, and as part of the terms, he even gets to choose the girl. 'Course, Dean's not gonna make it easy. Some morbidly obese chick with a complexion that looks like something one of those Mars rovers beamed back to NASA? Nah, too easy. The unwittingly lucky lady...? Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook)! A standoff-ish klutz who's too busy painting the agony and despair she catches on CNN every night to bother with makeup or boys. Gulp! Looks like Zack's got his work cut out for him!

...and, okay, She's All That isn't exactly going to blindside you with outta-left-field twists or anything. You know Laney isn't gonna give Zack so much as the time of day. You know he'll wind up wearing her down and that the two of 'em will get to be buddies. You know they're gonna fall in doe-eyed love. You know that whole bet thing will come back to bite Zack on the ass. You know they'll break-up-to-make-up, that there'll be a big thing at the prom, that the bad kids will get what's coming to 'em, and that it'll all end happily ever after. You know beat-for-beat how things are gonna go, and that predictability is kinda part of the appeal. The fun comes in slipping on that well-worn-but-super-comfy pair of fuzzy
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slippers and getting there. She's All That is cute and frothy but still has a little bite to it. The cast -- more than a couple of whom have gone onto become pretty familiar faces (before fading into obscurity, but let's be positive here!) -- chimes in with some really earnest performances. I defy you to not have a colossal crush on Rachael Leigh Cook after watching this. Defy you! Some of the acting and a lot of the dialogue is corny but in a kind of charming, endearing way. I was surprised-slash-horrified at how much of She's All That's dialogue I'd accidentally memorized: some because it's really clever and Whedonesque, and some because it's...well, not ("yeah -- busy wiggin'!"). Several sequences are straight up brilliant, like a skewering of pretentious performance art, Matthew Lillard doing his best Puck impression with his egomaniacal douchebag character's stint on The Real World, and the swoon-worthy reveal of Laney Boggs coming down the stairs after getting her not-even-a-little-bit-dramatic makeover. I kind of like some of the flourishes with the characters too, such as how only a couple of the popular kids are raging assholes and how Zack gets called on his shit when he mopes about which Ivy league school's admission letter he's gonna accept.

Look, nothing with a title like "She's All That" is gonna be mistaken for high art. Yeah, pretty much the entire thing is ridiculous, starting with the idea that someone as off-the-charts adorable as Rachael Leigh Cook could ever be mistaken for an ugly duckling. The clean-scrubbed actors are so actorly that you're never in any danger of forgetting that you're watching a movie, even a lot the characters who are supposed to be likeable kind of come across as assholes, and the screen isn't exactly sopping with chemistry between...well, anyone, really. I haven't even said anything about Laney's covertly gay best friend, the nightmarish freestyle rap that I guess gave the flick its title, or the pointlessly overchoreographed dance number at the prom. Actually, I guess I can't really defend She's All That on any sort of intellectual or artistic level, and...well, yeah, obviously. Dammit, I like it anyway, though. Worth checking out again for a burst of nostalgia and/or a late-nite snarkfest. Recommended.

That old, dusty DVD of She's All That from way back in 1999 was released before Disney started doing the whole anamorphic widescreen thing, so this Blu-ray disc is an even bigger step up than usual. A decent chunk
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of the first act is unusually soft -- even outside of the shots with optical titles on top of 'em -- but other than that, the image tends to be reasonably sharp and detailed. Yeah, that varies a bit depending on the shot, but it's generally where it oughtta be. There's not a whole lot in the way of speckling or wear, and any digital noise reduction is kept to a minimum, with a moderately gritty texture visible throughout. Colors are mostly bright and chipper without being overcranked, and contrast looks spot-on. ...and, yeah, The Real World segments were shot on video, plastered across a big-screen RPTV, and shot with film (kinda kinescope-y, I guess?), so those look pretty terrible, but all of that's obviously intentional. Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the way this Blu-ray disc has turned out, and especially with a sticker price of ten bucks at a couple of stores online, it's an easy upgrade over the creaky, decade-old DVD.

She's All That is served up on a single layer Blu-ray disc. The movie's been encoded with AVC and is very lightly letterboxed to preserve its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

Although She's All That looks kinda nice on Blu-ray, the aural end of things is a lot more ordinary. The 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is kinda meek, and I had to crank the volume up several notches higher than usual for it to sound right. Even for a romantic comedy, surround use is very light; applause capping off the trippy performance art, reverb in the locker room, a phone ringing off in the distance...that sort of thing. It's basically a straightahead stereo mix where the rears are an afterthought. The LFE does a decent job reinforcing Stewart Copeland's score and the gaggle of songs on the soundtrack, although it's not quite as big or booming as I waltzed in expecting it to be. Chances are that you're not going to be dazzled by the distinctness and clarity of each individual element in the mix or whatever either. It probably doesn't help that the recording can be kind of sloppy, like Taylor's "I'm a legacy!" rant where the rustling shopping bags are as loud as the dialogue. On the upside, no hiss, clicks, or pops ever creep in, there's never any clipping to get in the way, and, well, even in that shopping bag bit, every last line of dialogue remains clear and discernable throughout. Totally fine at the end of the day but still kinda underwhelming.

No dubs or alternate mixes this time around. Subtitles are dished out in English (traditional and SDH) and Spanish.

  • Audio Commentary: Oh, that's kinda cool. Rather than just warm over the mostly non-existent extras from the 1999 DVD, this high-def reissue of She's All That features a newly-recorded audio commentary with director Robert
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    Iscove. The downside is that it's a really quiet track, although I do really like the awesomely random nuggets that Iscove throws out every once in a while, like Dulé Hill giving Freddie Prinze Jr. tapdancing lessons between setups, Alex Trebek recording the Jeopardy! questions after Kevin Pollak had already been filmed lobbing out completely random answers, what's standing in for pubes on the cafeteria pizza, and pointing out that Kieran Culkin's character was supposed to be hard-of-hearing...something I never picked up on despite having watched She's All That over and over and over and over. Iscove also defends the big dance number at the prom that pretty much everyone who's ever watched She's All That bitches about, speaks briefly about its unexpectedly colossal success at the box office, and talks about M. Night Shyamalan doing a script polish back before everyone was whispering "I see dead people". It's a decent listen but really would've benefitted from having someone else in the room to spur on something resembling a conversation.

  • Music Video (3 min.; SD): The She's All That-ified video for Sixpence None the Richer's "Kiss Me" has found its way onto this Blu-ray disc too. It's been upconverted to 1080p from a standard-def and kinda heavily aliased source.

  • Trailer (2 min.; SD): Last up is a 4x3 trailer that's also been upconverted.

The Final Word
I'm more than a little biased, sure, but She's All That is every bit as cute, charming, sporadically clever, and corny now as it was back in...yikes!...1999. This Blu-ray disc is a really solid upgrade over that old DVD from a decade and change back, and with an asking price of ten bucks at a couple of shops online, She's All That is totally worth that blast of nostalgia. Recommended.
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