She’s All That

by KE Monahan Huntley

You have seen this movie before. Whether it was My Fair Lady, Pretty in Pink, the dance sequence from Footloose, whatever, it all rings a bell. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if the story in question is served with a Dramatica grand argument story and does a twist, and She's All That has all that.

The film, written by R. Lee Fleming Jr. and directed by Robert Iscove, opens as most popular boy (mc domain-universe) and main character, Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.), is unceremoniously dumped (objective story thematic issue-commitment) by the most popular girl (story driver-action). She has found true (unlasting) love with a puckish MTV Real World (scene stealing Mathew Lillard as Brock Hudson) castmate over spring break. Contagonist Dean (an unlikable 90210 "Steve" lookalike), masquerading as the best friend, laughs in Zack's face, especially as (gasp!) the most popular couple were shoo-ins to be crowned teen King and (ice) Queen of the Prom. It's not a thing, Zack asserts (mc approach-do-er), he can take any one of the 2000 female population of Harrison High and, in six weeks, transform (story goal-becoming) her into tiara material (os signpost 1-conceptualizing). The bet is set. (Note: Although six weeks indicates a timelock story limit, the goal is an optionlock. Zack's choice (mc-unique ability) must become queen.)

Zack's personal concern is his future. Specifically, college. As a graduating senior with the 4th highest GPA, he can go anywhere he wants. Or where his dad insists-which is alma mater Dartmouth (mc thematic counterpoint-preconception). Zack's vacillation creates conflict at home (critical flaw-attitude). The endeavor (relationship story concern-obtaining) to win influence character and dream (ic unique ability) geek, Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook), provides a fine distraction from parental authority and moving on as BMOC (mc benchmark-past).

Laney has her own issues (ic domain-mind). Bias against the cliques and an unwillingness to come to terms (ic thematic issue-closure) with her mother's death (ic benchmark-memory) aids in her avoidance (ic problem) of having fun (translation-a boyfriend). She feels obligated (ic critical flaw) to be the family caretaker, outside of this she withdraws into a narrow world of art.

The preconceptions Zack and Laney have about one another inhibit the relationship. Zack, however, doesn't allow this to prevent (rs problem) him from chasing (rs solution-pursuit) Laney. Of course, the more they hang out, the more they understand (ss benchmark) each other. The makeover Zack orchestrates for Laney (rs focus-control) is awfully quick and no surprise-we've seen the ubiquitous Rachael Leigh Cook lately on TV (anti-drug commercial, Dawson's Creek) and the cover of Entertainment Weekly. (Oddly enough, it doesn't make Laney any less remote.) Laney puts up some resistance (rs direction-uncontrolled) to Zack and her new look, and temporarily (os journey 2-being to becoming) falls prey to the temptation of Dean, who surreptitiously hinders Zack's efforts towards Laney.

The usual high school high jinks ensue (breaking up/making up), scored with the latest hip-shaking funk. Film imitates television with the insertion of faux Real World clips and Buffy the vampire slayer making a cameo in the high school cafeteria.

At the big prom face-off, Laney loses (outcome-failure). No matter, dancing poolside with Zack she has changed (ic resolve) into a "pretty woman" but "without the whole hooker thing." Zack is steadfast (mc resolve) to his essential Prince Charming self (judgment-good), yet he has matured (mc growth-start)-he is now open (mc thematic issue) to a world of possibilities beyond the superficial (mc signpost 4-present).

About the Author

KE Monahan Huntley is an editor and publisher based in Southern California. As one of the original contributors to Dramatica, she helped edit and analyze many of the examples. In addition, her numerous articles provided an insightful "conversational" approach to the theory. Today she can be found at Write Between the Lines or follow her on Twitter @kemhuntley.

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