For the last couple of years, teenagers have appeared in films solely to be chased, cut up or disembowelled by rusty hooks. Odd, then, that Buena Vista should have been lumbered with two roughly similar teen movies that were funny, entertaining and gentle rom-coms. Unsurprisingly, they had to get rid of one.
And here it is. Snapped up by Film Four, She's All That (a teen take on Pygmalion) has been rushed out before the other one - - 10 Things I Hate About You (a teen remake of The Taming Of The Shrew) - - can make any box-office impact. Yet, despite the fact that it advertises the rather unwholesome American ethic of outward beauty equals popularity equals happiness, She's All That has some chuckles and a likeable ensemble cast of young, pert and devastatingly good-looking actors and actresses.
The predictable story hardly breaks ground though. When jock Zach bets he can turn the geekiest girl into the prom queen, he nearly backs out when his mates pick nerdy art student Laney Boggs (Cook). Kind of odd really, as despite her thick glasses, unflattering hair and baggy dungarees, it's clear to everyone not in the film that she's a total babe. So when Laney finally loses the glasses, plucks her eyebrows and slinks into a dress smaller than most hankies, the shock impact of her ugly duckling transformation is kind of muted.
Suitably beautified, Laney becomes popular, other boys covet her and Zach realises he really likes her. But as the races to be prom queen and to get into her pants hot up, the bitchiness and back-stabbing mean someone will probably tell Laney about the bet before Zach can.
No prizes for guessing how it works out, but with a genuinely likable lead couple, quirky flashback sequences and a quality comic turn from Kevin Pollak as Laney's Jeopardy-obsessed dad, She's All That is as cheering yet inconsequential a film as you're likely to see.