Well, this is going to be a first for me. I’m going to review a movie.
The only reason I’m doing this is because my wife won tickets to “The Perfect Man” and she and I went and saw it on Tuesday. This movie opens tomorrow.
I’m not putting it in one of the permanent pages of the Journal, since this movie has very little to do with Paganism, but a lot to do with human nature.
Let me explain what I’m going to do here. I won’t be reviewing it from the standpoint of the Director, the technical stuff or anything other than what you see on the screen and how the story works. I may make snarky comments occasionally but that is because it’s something that REALLY stood out.
There will be spoilers, but I’ll try not to give too much away. I’m also going to put most of the review behind what is effectively a “cut”, meaning that I’m going to put it on a new page where those who don’t want to read parts that will spoil the movie don’t have to.
This is an “everyman” review, meaning that I’m writing from the perspective of someone who is simply going to this movie for entertainment, not for artsy stuff, technical stuff, special effects and so on.
So, without further ado, I’m going to start the review on the next page. If you are reading this through a RSS reader of some sort, come to this page and read it at my site since this is not all you are going to see. And maybe take the time to comment?
One thing I have to say for the Casting Department in this movie, they don’t pick ugly people. Heather Locklear, Hillary Duff, Chris Noth and the rest of the cast looks beautiful on screen. That was my first impression. But first, a quick story synopsis…
Basically this is a teen chick-flick. It’s a story told from the perspective of the 16 year old daughter, Holly (Duff) about her mother’s love life and search for the Perfect Man. Unfortunately this woman (Locklear) has real commitment problems as she finds a man, dates him and when she gets dumped, she packs up herself and her two children and moves across the country to start again.
I won’t bore you with many details, but the premise is sound in this case. I know of many people who run from relationships like this.
What this has done is make Holly cynical and hard. She sees her mother running from relationships and she thinks that is the way to live her life. The lament of the youngest daughter about “Are we going to be here in two months?” when she wants to enter a Spelling Bee is heartbreaking.
The story takes time to develop, but when things start popping, they really start hitting fast.
Enter Ben (Noth). Owner of a bistro that her best friend takes Holly to since Ben is her uncle. I think this is where Holly starts hatching her plot to stay where they are because of how Ben describes what the Perfect Man would do. Orchids and music and ice cream, what 16 year old girl wouldn’t fall head over heels?
I have to say the scene of Holly giving an orchid to her mother is a scream. And Carson makes his first appearance in the bistro, and he is a scream. I won’t say he steals the scenes he’s in, but he does make it very easy to walk off with them.
I’m going to talk in detail about some problems I have with the movie now, we are going to get even more into spoilers, so if you want to stop reading now, I will understand.
During the course of the movie, several things struck me as odd. In one scene, Holly and her best friend are sitting in Literature class, plotting how to get Mom to fall in love with a man who doesn’t exist. Meanwhile the teacher is having a class discussion on the quote “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we plot to deceive.” One of the students gets an interpretation of it correct, but like a typical child, Holly is oblivious to this bit of subtle warning.
Not sure why this scene was included. It gives no dramatic foreshadowing (it’s blatantly obvious what she is going to be doing) and adds nothing to the story. Had she not been whispering in class loud enough for the teacher to hear (and ignore), she would have heard what she was planning was wrong and why. But, knowing everything and believing she is immune to everything, she persists. This does NOT paint her in a good light.
The next scene that struck me was the IM chat she had with her mother while she is posing as Ben. Mom is already falling for Ben (yes, Holly got a photo of Ben and used his name liberally, without telling or asking Ben if she could) and this only complicates matters. So here we have a 16 year old having to pretend to be a 40 (mumble) man who is writing from China where he is supposedly opening restaurants.
The problem here is that the mother is telling things to Ben that normally adults only tell other adults in confidence. Things like her regrets and her sorrows and her fears for her children. And her child is reading it. Now I’m all for sharing this kind of thing with the kids, but sometimes I wonder if it’s necessary to remove a child’s innocence this fast. And my wife leaned over and asked if she was the only one who was concerned because a 16 year old was seducing her own mother. Talk about your Electra Complexes….
Then there are two more things that caused me to drop out of suspension of disbelief. One is the scene where her mother is at the bistro that Ben owns. Through a long series of events, Holly winds up setting off the sprinklers to get her mother out of the bistro. First, one sprinkler going off is not going to set them all off, not of the old heat-melt plug sprinklers. The other is when Holly goes in and finally confesses to Ben that her mother and he are perfect for each other, ruining a wedding.
To say that she cost someone several hundred thousand dollars is an understatement. The wedding is probably 200 grand since it’s a socialite wedding, and it is very hard to recoup that kind of loss. The “fire” in the bistro could have closed him down forever. The water damage alone probably came to about 200 thousand dollars, and I don’t think that he has that kind of money laying around in the bank. Wood floors that were rained on for several hours, along with the equipment behind the counter, the liquor, the food, the bar and so on. And the closing for renovations and repair could all combine to destroy his bistro. But the next scene (supposedly the next day) it’s all better.
I have to hand it to the actors and the director, they really nailed a unthinking 16 year old perfectly. The angst, the hate, the distance, the standoffishness and the know it all attitude are played out perfectly by Duff. The thoughtlessness in what she does to her mother, getting her hopes up just to confess and dash all those same hopes and dreams, followed by completely turning it around and making the whole scene about Holly. How all of it is mom’s fault and she only did this because of Holly’s needs. Perfection.
I also have got to hand it to the writer, this is not one of the “everyone lives happily ever after” films where it’s all fixed in the last four minutes of the last reel. It’s not. Many things ARE resolved quickly, but it’s not all better. Some things are still in the air and unresolved.
Which makes it a lot like life.
I slept on this review for a couple days. At first I didn’t like it since it was so obviously aimed at the teenage female market. But older women can find something in here, and men could stand to listen to some of the advice in there too. It is definitely a date movie, and one that the lady will love. I did like it. I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me…. (snerk) But they need to use less lipstick on Chris Noth’s lips. I’m just sayin’…
But all kidding aside, I give this about 7 stars out of ten. There are some things that are hard to swallow, some things that are outright horror, some things that are tender and kind and poignant, and some things that are funny. Over all, not too bad.
Now if I can only get “Mr. Roboto” out of my head.