Padgett Sawyer is all about the right look. After all, it’s her job.
For her entire high school career, Padgett has dedicated her time and energy to building a brand on social media, and she’s now nearing one million followers. Her specialty? Makeup and skin care, paired with taking guys who are absolute nobodies and giving them the transformation of their lives.
With Padgett’s help, she’ll take someone from not to hot, just so long as he submits to her process. Just like her now-famous boyfriend, Jordan Van Draanen. When Padgett met Jordan, he was all scraggly hair and bad skin. Now, he’s making music videos and climbing the social media ladder. And Padgett wants to congratulate him.
Right before Jordan’s first day of recording a new music video, Padgett stops by his trailer to surprise him, filming her arrival live for her followers to see. But instead of a happy arrival, she finds Jordan hooking up with a backup dancer.
Bewildered and hurt, Padgett makes a fool of herself on social media. Her carefully cultivated brand takes a big hit. The only way to redeem herself is to find another unsuspecting guy and make him look Instagram-ready. Padgett’s friends choose a loner, Cameron Kweller, as her next makeover project.
Although Padgett starts the next stage of her social media journey solely for selfish reasons, she realizes that there’s more to Cameron than meets the eye. And the more she begins to see who he really is, the more she learns that character and inner beauty far outweigh picture-perfect images on the internet.
Padgett’s mother works hard to support her daughter, even moving to an excellent school district and taking on more financial responsibility to give her daughter the best life possible. Padgett’s mom also tells her that she does not want Padgett to be negatively influenced by the “snotty-nose trust funders” who make up the vast population of her high school. Throughout the film, she encourages Padgett and reminds her daughter that she is a kind, loving, generous young woman.
Cameron, while he wrestles with his own pessimism and emotional issues, defends Padgett. He encourages her to live a life outside of social media and stands by her side when she faces public humiliation.
Padgett, for her part, really helps Cameron come out of his shell. She challenges him to do things that make him uncomfortable. She also helps Cameron and his sister reconnect, albeit inadvertently.
By the films end, Padgett admits to herself that a perfect social media image is both unreal and damaging. Instead, she opts for a life that has deeper meaning as she reaches for authenticity and stops trying to present a polished image for the world to see.
Viewers learn the importance of an authentic life, filled with solid character.
Padgett walks in on her boyfriend, Jordan, cheating on her (we see a girl in a very revealing bikini and a shirtless Jordan, getting out of a bed).
Jordan kisses Cameron’s young sister and tries to take things further without her consent. She reportedly refuses his advances and hits him with a pool ball. (We hear about this encounter but do not see any of it.) One of Padgett’s seemingly close friends makes an advance on Jordan. Although the scene cuts away, it’s obvious that the two sexually engage with one another.
Girls wear bikinis in a music video, as well as at a pool party, while guys go shirtless. One guy always looks for an excuse to take his shirt off in the most random locations. Someone makes a crude slang reference to oral sex. A girl makes a comment about guys “kicking each other in the ’nads.” A teenage couple dances and grinds on one another. Cameron makes an unintentional sexual joke. Cameron’s younger sister, who is a virgin, tells Cameron that she read about how sex can be “weird.”
Two girls flirt with one another and attend prom together. Couples kiss, hold hands and flirt.
Cameron and Jordan get into a fight. Eventually, Cameron wins by kicking and tripping Jordan. We hear about someone’s ex-husband being mauled by a bear. Cameron tells Padgett that his mother and stepfather were killed in a place crash.
We hear “oh my God” quite often. The f-word is used once, “effin” is heard a few times and the s-word is heard about five times. Other profanities include multiple utterances each of “d–k,” “h—,” “a–,” “a–hole,” “bada–,” “d–n” and “d–mit.”
Padgett’s mom tells Padgett that she helped a patient on “meth with a gun wound” while working in the Emergency Room. Cameron jokingly tells Padgett that his grandma thinks he’s running a meth lab inside of his dark room.
Padgett tells Cameron that her father left and started a new family when she was young. Similarly, Cameron tells Padgett that after his mother’s death, his father moved to Sweden, leaving his two children to be raised by their grandmother.
Jordan throws Cameron’s cherished camera, a gift from his deceased mother, into a pool out of spite.
Netflix delivers a message about the harmful nature of social media in its latest teen-focused original called He’s All That. This new movie is a spin-off of the ’90s original, She’s All That, but instead of a girl getting a makeover, the focus here is a teenage guy.
And receive a makeover he does. But what’s interesting is that makeovers are both external and internal in this TV-14 film. The story doesn’t bash social media or suggest that it’s terrible. Instead, it tells viewers that our inner character and how we treat others will always be more important than a perfected image on a screen.
That’s a great message, and it’s one that targets teenagers positively. But this film is not problem-free. Unnecessary, profane language is the biggest issue here, as is some of the sexuality and sexual activity that’s implied.
And although the problematic content doesn’t touch the issues we find in other teen-focused films like The Kissing Booth, you’ll still want to read this entire review to see if this is a movie for your family.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).