The Shape Of Things plays like the dark flipside to She's All That. Following the success of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Freddie Prinze Jr was quickly snapped up for a run of rom-coms. This includes She's All That, Boys And Girls, Summer Catch, and Down To You. He seemed practically inspirable from co-star Matthew Lillard during this period too, so in addition to She's All That and Summer Catch, they also appeared together in video game adaptation Wing Commander and both live-action Scooby-Doo movies.
She's All That remains Prinze Jr's most popular movie, however, and the story finds him as a jock tasked with taking so-called nerd Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) and transforming her into prom queen. The movie featured a great supporting cast, including Clea DuVall, Anna Paquin, and Paul Walker (Fast & Furious 6), and proved to be a big hit, grossing over $100 million on a modest budget.
In a twist worthy of The Sixth Sense M. Night Shyamalan would later reveal he rewrote the original script for She's All That, and much of his work made into the final product. While the ugly duckling trope was once popular in high-school films, this element has badly aged She's All That now - in addition to the idea someone must conform to a set ideal of beauty just to fit in. The Shape Of Things from 2003 plays out like the dark mirror of She's All That, where nerdy college student Adam (Paul Rudd, Ant-Man) falls for cool art student Evelyn (Rachel Weisz).
She proves to be a positive influence on Adam, helping him lose weight and getting him a cool haircut. The Shape Of Things gradually takes a darker turn, as Evelyn convinces Adam to get a nose job and to cut off his friends like Jenny (Gretchen Mol, Broadwalk Empire), which he does. He transforms into a handsome jerk, basically, which is around the time Evelyn unveils her art project - Adam. Since the theme of her thesis was transforming somebody's world, she decided to sculpt Adam from a dork into a hunk to comment on society's obsession with beauty. None of her feelings for him were genuine and she even videotaped their lovemaking and put it on display for her exhibition.
The Shape Of Things ends with Adam confronting Evelyn over her betrayal, but she claims she did him a favor by remaking him. He also asks if anything about there relationship was real, and she claims something she whispered in his ear during one night they spent together was true. The movie ends with Adam rewinding this moment on tape, devastated. While the trailer for The Shape Of Things bizarrely sold it like a rom-com, the movie is the total opposite of She's All That, from tone to execution. Director Neil LaBute (SYFY's Van Helsing) uses the ugly duckling trope to make bleak comments on the world's obsession with beauty and art, and the movie will stick with viewers long after it ends.