The Perfect Man
The Perfect Man is just more of the same sugary sweet, teen confection studio execs think young girls want to see. Maybe they do, and this will appeal to them. Maybe I'm just a jaded critic. But honestly, if I have to witness another cutesy scene in which teenager and parent bond by dancing together to a pop song, I'm going to scream. And I don't think I'm alone on this.
This happy-feel-good-but-let's-learn-a-lesson tale centers on teenager Holly Hamilton (Hilary Duff), who just wants to settle down. She's tired of moving every time her single mom Jean (Heather Locklear) has another personal meltdown involving yet another second-rate guy. And can you blame her? Even though mom professes her undying love and devotion to her daughters (there's a little sis, too), dragging them all over the country just 'cause she's too depressed to stay in the same place after her boyfriend dumps her doesn't necessarily earn her the Mother of the Year award. But when the family of transients lands in Brooklyn, Holly decides she's going to distract her mother from making another mistake by finding her the ''perfect'' man. Borrowing her friend's charming and handsome Uncle Ben (Christopher Noth) as a role model, Holly concocts an imaginary secret admirer who romances Jean via emails and instant messaging, thus boosting her shaky self-esteem. But soon Holly finds herself resorting to increasingly desperate measures to keep the ruse alive because a) mom is really happy but, of course, wants to meet Mr. Perfect and b) well, mom wants to meet Mr. Perfect. So just how is Holly going to get herself out of this, keep her mother's trust and realize Ben really is the perfect man? Oh, the drama!
Hilary Duff seems to be the main perpetrator of this entirely overcooked genre (The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Cinderella Story), although her colleagues Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries, Amanda Bynes (What a Girl Wants), the Olsen twins (New York Minute) and, yes, even Lindsay Lohan are all guilty of it as well. The young actress-singer still commands the attention of most tweens, and she continues to be a very likable screen teen. But her breathy, squeaky delivery of such syrupy material as The Perfect Man is starting be more gag-inducing than entertaining. Duff needs to rip her shirt off, stick a needle in her arm, and do SOMETHING dark, for Pete's sakes, even if she may not have the acting chops to pull it off. Here's an idea: maybe Hathaway, Duff and Lohan should play crack whores in some indie. Now that would be something. Not sure what Heather Locklear and Christopher Noth are doing in this movie, though. Sure, Locklear has distanced herself from years as one of TV's queen bitches, and Noth has left his Sex and the City days forever, but for both of them to stoop as low as The Perfect Man? Like we are supposed to believe a woman who looks like her and a guy as sexy as him can't find someone to love them. Please. Doesn't she know Mr. Big's waiting for her?
Director Mark Rosman is clearly a Hilary Duff fan, having guided her through other such sticky sweet fluff as Cinderella Story and episodes of Duff's former Disney Channel show The Lizzie McGuire Show. He doesn't do anything glaringly wrong with The Perfect Man either. There are all the right beats and poignant moments. The familial bonding. The romantic interests. The pop-song filled soundtrack. The youthful characters sporting the latest and coolest fashions. But just a few niggling questions entered my brain as I watched the movie. First of all, how does this woman find all these jobs and apartments all over the country on such short notice? Does she have a network of people on the lookout for her? And for someone who moves around a lot, they sure do have a lot of cool furniture. Of course, I should have been all wrapped up in the story, how Jean realizes what an idiot she's been, teaching her daughters the wrong kind of lessons. But instead I'm thinking about what a pain in the ass it is to move.
Your tween daughter and her friends will probably chirp over Hilary Duff's oh-so-precious and Perfect moments. But you'll most likely want to throw up and call it a night after swallowing this big ball of cotton candy.