Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 92 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Geek becomes chic.
OK, while that basically sums up She’s All That nicely and succinctly, we know you want more. So let’s warm up the waffle iron, shall we?
Harking from the same time as many other teen comedies so desperate for story-like fodder that the cupboard of classic literature was plundered, She’s All That can somewhat less succinctly be described as a mix of Pygmalion (or My Fair Lady if you’re thinking that ‘P’ word was describing a teensy jungle cat with a bone through its head) and John Hughes’ rather wonderful Pretty in Pink. So far, so like you know whatever, but it does have one very big, appealing and film-saving grace, the presence of Rachael Leigh Cook as Laney Boggs.
She’s the typical geeky artist we need for these type of things, the kind who’s even ostracised by the other geeks at school. Still, despite being as graceful as a three-legged giraffe at a line dancing championship, possessing the dress sense of a pile of potatoes, being “scary and inaccessible” and generally looking dorky-to-the-max behind glasses which would have Clark Kent making a beeline for the optometrists to be fitted with contacts, somehow we just know that underneath it all she’s really a babe. And of course she is (just like all of us geek girls, natch!) So, how does this come about? Well…
School jocko-honcho Zack Siler (Buffy’s real life boyfriend) has just been dumped by his most-popular-girl-in-school blonde bimbo arm-decoration Taylor (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) in favour of a guy she met on Spring break named Brock (Shaggy, as in Scooby’s pal in the movie, not the rap-type guy) – one of the stars of MTV’s Big Brother-like The Real World programme. And boy is he a dorkus-maximus! Incensed at this slight to his hunkhood, especially as there are only a couple of months until school’s end, Zack takes on a bet that he can transform any girl on campus into a prom queen; obviously, Laney is his mark.
"What is this, some sort of dork outreach program?"
If you’ve ever seen two or three teen films you should be able to sticky-tape together a reasonable facsimile of what ensues. Laney’s de-geeked, she actually is a super-babe underneath, she becomes popular, Zack falls for her, our heroine helps the jock grow up, everybody goes to the senior prom and shakes their booties etc. etc. etc, blah blah blah.
Yes, it’s more formulaic than the most formulaic of formulaicy things, but She’s All That still manages to be fun, both on the strength of many of its performers – many of them wasted in way too fleeting roles - and odd forays into territories that break up the cavalcade of standard by-the-numbers scenes, the performance art bit being one fabulous example.
Obviously with she being all that and stuff, it didn’t leave much of anything lying around to be lavished on the transfer. Sadly, for a film that’s only a few years old, this looks pretty darned appalling, and well below Roadshow’s usually respectable standards.
At least it’s presented in a 16:9-enhanced, 1.78:1 ratio (which is close to the film’s cinematic outing in 1.85:1) however from here on things get kind of murky – literally.
Unwanted detritus in the form of flecks, speckles, blobs and even reel change markers regularly invade proceedings, and shadow detail is often left wanting. As for overall detail, there are more itsy-bitsy little life forms than there are Petri dishes in the world to hold them wriggling around the background, seemingly some sort of hybrid of grain and artefacts caused by really shitty compression from squeezing things onto a single layer – not that the film’s really that long. Still, at least colour scrubs alright for the most part.
I guess we can’t complain that Dolby Digital 5.1 is becoming de rigueur nowadays; however sometimes there seems little point – such as with soundtracks like this. Subwoofwoof buffs will be sorely disappointed, and most will likely question the point of even bothering to have installed rear speakers, as they’re scarcely thought about here. At least things are decently synched, and all is quite clearly spoken.
Former Police man Stewart Copeland donates some of his lesser doodles as a soundtrack, although you’ll be hard pressed to spot them within a sea of mercifully not all teen angst anthems from an admittedly mostly decent array of not-so-mainstream artists such as Goldie, Jurassic 5, Liz Phair, Afghan Whigs and Audioweb. Sadly, though, amongst all this good the terminally annoying Kiss Me by Sixpence None the Richer seems virtually omnipresent.
While overseas releases have hardly been bursting at the corset with extras (a few interviews, a brief featurette, a gallery), they’ve certainly contained more than just a teaser trailer - a 1.85:1, non-anamorphic one at that.
The sound’s just OK, the lone extra is lame and the video is absolutely appalling for such a recent film. Which doesn’t leave much to recommend this release, except for the fact that it does contain a film that, while lacking in the originality stakes, still makes a decent fist of being a fun teen flick - and without resorting to processions of bare breasty-bits and boys bonking baked goods.
Hey, there’s even a brief cameo from Buffy (after all this was filmed at Sunnydale High), should that sway you to give this half-decent teen flick a spin.
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "