This August must have been one of the greatest months in Netflix history. They decided to bless us with not one, but two movies in the so-bad-it’s-entertaining genre: He’s All That and The Kissing Booth 3. As someone who cannot ignore cheaply-made films with a young teen girl target audience, I had to indulge in two movie nights. But which one was better?
Let’s start with The Kissing Booth 3. The first two Kissing Booth films are the pinnacle of cringe media — the end all, be all of corny teen romance movies. They are incredibly entertaining in the so-bad-it’s-good sense and are absolutely worth watching with your friends for a good laugh.
I cannot say the same about the third movie.
Here’s the thing: it’s not as terrible as the first two, and that is precisely its downfall. The film commits the far worse crime of being boring. The plot is incredibly minimal: the characters spend the summer in the Flynn family beach house. We see Elle juggling a lot of commitments: completing a summer bucket list with her childhood best friend, Lee, spending time with her boyfriend, Noah and attending to her family and job while putting off making a decision about whether to go to Harvard with Noah or Berkeley with Lee. Overall, not much actually happens. The central conflict can be summed up as “Hey Elle! You’re spending too much time doing ____!” “I’m sorry!” Riveting.
Among all the filler, the film does feature some unironically entertaining moments. The best part of the movie has to be the flash mob scene — if you told me that The Kissing Booth 3 would contain a random dance scene before I watched it, I would probably say “that sounds terrible and makes no sense.” But I cannot lie: it was truly awesome. I don’t know how much money they spent on choreographers and dancers for that, but it was worth every penny. As a lifelong Mario Kart fan, I thought the real life Mario Kart scene was pretty sick too.
So yes, The Kissing Booth 3 was still a bad movie; it wasn’t as in-your-face cringeworthy as the first two, but as a result it dragged on forever and failed to capture my attention. Lucky for me, Netflix had another bad film this month to make up for the shortcomings of Kissing Booth 3.
He’s All That, starring TikTok celebrity Addison Rae, is a remake of the 1999 film She’s All That, with the main characters’ genders swapped. Addison portrays an influencer named Padgett (yes, Padgett) who has turned into a meme and needs to earn her reputation back. She aims to do this by making over a “loser” and turning him into the next prom king. Why this would possibly save her internet-wide reputation is beyond me, but the film does not pause to ask these sorts of questions. You just have to roll with it.
Cameron, the subject of Padgett’s makeover, seemed like an odd choice for a “loser” character right off the bat. Pre-makeover, Cameron is a perfectly fine, confident individual. Sure, he was an outcast, but in a refusing-to-conform-to-the-rich-people-of-LA-lifestyle way, not in a genuinely-needs-a-visit-from-the-fab-five way. He was an outcast by choice, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It genuinely irks me that the movie implies that his choice of how to live was not valid, and I still could not forgive the producers even after the “be yourself” messaging at the end.
And what about Addison Rae? She is part of the comedic appeal of He’s All That; it’s literally Addison Rae. If you had never downloaded TikTok and had no clue who she was, her performance would seem a bit mediocre, but on par with the acting in other lowbrow teen movies. The real star of the show is Kourtney Kardashian — it sounds like she is reading her lines from a teleprompter, and it’s hilarious.
All in all, if you’re looking for a movie to laugh at, this is the one. He’s All That is self aware of the fact that its cringe is its entire appeal, so they really lean into it. I mean, they named the main character Padgett. They know what they’re doing. They use every trope in the book: the mean girl cheerleader,the epic high school party, the unnecessary speech at the prom where everyone is told to just be themselves. It’s so predictable, but honestly, who cares? There are moments when you can’t look at the screen and moments when you’re cackling at something that was not supposed to be funny. Although the film is calculated in its terribleness, the calculations work. The verdict is clear: skip Kissing Booth and go watch He’s All That as soon as you can. It’s the best of the worst: a top notch trash movie that I think anyone can enjoy.
Lauren Douglass is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].