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She's All That Review

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★★★★★

A cartoon appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer straight after April's massacre at Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado: a slacker kid says to his mom, "Another dull, boring, totally forgettable day at school." She replies, "Thank God!"

After Screams 1 and 2 and The Faculty, a similar sense of relief greets the wave of forthcoming high school films in which no one gets murdered: Varsity Blues, Never Been Kissed, 10 Things I Hate About You and this, a US sleeper hit in January. She's All That is a gore-free, sex-free, irony-free teen comedy romance combining Cinderella and Pygmalion. At Harrison High, LA, school nerd Laney Boggs (Cook) becomes the unwitting subject of a bet between school hunk Zack (Prinze Jr.) and his jocky mates, when he vows that he can turn "the falafel fairy" into Prom Queen in six weeks. During their artificial courtship, he discovers that behind her glasses and awkward demeanour she's, hey, a real person.

This is a sassy, sunny confection with its Clueless jargon and a cast chiefly recognisable to fans of Dawson's Creek (Cook), the teen slashers (Prinze Jr. was in I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Lillard was in Scream) or Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar has a silent cameo). Two scenes recommend theatre-schooled first-time director Iscove: a highly choreographed Prom Night dance to Fatboy Slim, and a gross-out moment involving pizza and pubic hair. The rest is just breezy propaganda for American high school fascism.The most worrying thing about She's All That is its message. The "ugly duckling" (specs, dungarees, art-lover) must conform (she gets a makeover and the boys notice her "bobos" for the first time) to fit in.