Making the Grades
This typical Ugly Duckling story opens on Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.), the most popular guy in school, and Taylor Vaughan (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe) who (you guessed it) is the most popular girl. But when Taylor starts having sex with someone else, Zack is miffed. To save his image, he bets his friends that with his popularity, he can take the ugliest "duck" in the school and turn her into prom queen material. His buddies choose art student Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook) as the "least likely to succeed".
It wasn't enough to include all of the usual elements of teen stories: Teen drinking, the assumption that if you're not having sex you're worthless, two scenes of teens rolling around in bed, a high school full of perfectly formed females, revengeful attitudes, fat kids that are losers, parents that are imbeciles, and countless more. No, it gets worse, leaving me to believe that either the execs at Disney or Miramax haven't seen a newscast in the last two years -- or they haven't watched this movie.
At one point, after a negative critique by her art teacher, Laney is advised by other "upscale" classmates, that artists only become famous after they're dead, and that it "might be a good idea if you killed yourself." In another scene, two boys enter the cafeteria and start picking on Laney's younger brother. One boy is dressed in a t-shirt emblazoned with a large gun and the words, "KILL ALL ARTISTS". Attempting to solve the confrontation, the hero walks in and bullies the bad boys into submission.
I couldn't help but recall descriptions of troubled youths in our high schools that have turned to violence as a way to retaliate against bullies, or the many more who have turned to suicide as a way to relieve the pain of not "fitting in". The movie's creators inclusion of these scenarios is an irresponsible decision. Put into the context of a teen "comedy", She's All That fires a deadly shot at audiences everywhere.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about She’s All That.
If your teens are an audience to this film, here are some discussion ideas:
Was Laney an unattractive girl before her make-over? Why do we never see overweight or disabled people in a role like this? Could the story still work if they were?
This movie has many instances of teens using alcohol irresponsibly. Where did the tradition of getting drunk to celebrate your graduation start? Who benefits from having thousands of underage teens drinking during their graduation year? Do you think alcohol manufacturers or movie producers have a responsibility to discourage underage drinking?
Does the studio have any responsibility to society when it includes scenes like the one in the cafeteria where the bully is wearing a t-shirt that says, “KILL ALL ARTISTS”, or the one that suggests underappreciated students should consider suicide as a way to get attention?