out of Five
Running time: 100
OPENS FRI 19TH AUGUST
Disappointing romantic comedy that starts well but then takes a nosedive into cliché and sickly sweet sentimentality – only the presence of Heather Locklear rescues this from one-star ignominy.
Hilary Duff is an extremely appealing teen actress but her latest film is aimed squarely at her pre-teen fanbase – they’re the only ones likely to get anything out of The Perfect Man. Hopefully Duff will start making some proper grown-up teen movies and romcoms soon, but at the moment she’s stuck in bland, manufactured nonsense such as this.
Duff plays 16 year old Holly, older sister to Zoe (Aria Wallace) and dutiful daughter to foxy single mother Jean (Heather Locklear), who is forever moving the family around the country whenever her latest romance turns sour.
Her latest home is Brooklyn, and when Holly makes a new friend, Amy (Vanessa Lengies), she determines to stay put for once, or at least long enough to attend a school ball.
To that end she invents a secret admirer for her mother, based on Amy’s restaurant-owning uncle Ben (Christ Noth). Meanwhile, a cute geek at school (Ben Feldman) takes an interest in Holly and tries to woo her with his invites to comic conventions and his drawing skills.
The film starts well enough and it’s a nice touch to have Holly narrate the film from her online blog (“Girl On The Move”) as opposed to scribbling in a diary. There are also some funny early scenes, such as Jean announcing that she’s looking for a man at the Parent Teacher Association meeting. However, this is one of those films where you’re happily enjoying it for a while and then how truly appalling it is sneaks up and wallops you over the head when you’re not expecting it.
The precise moment where The Perfect Man becomes terrible is when Holly puts on a CD that Ben has given her and then has an impromptu dance around the room with Jean and Zoe. Jean later declares this anodyne, forgettable pop tune to be her new favourite song. From then on, the clichés flow thick and fast and the script trots out howlingly bad lines such as “New people are only new for a day – then they’re just people” and “Love is friendship on fire.”
One of the main problems with the film is that what Holly is doing is actually rather distasteful, particularly later on when she starts chatting to her mother on instant messenger while pretending to be Ben. That said, it’s great to see Heather Locklear on the big screen and she does a terrific job – Jean is the most likeable character in the film.
In short, if you’re female and aged between 5 and 12 then there’s every chance that you’ll love The Perfect Man. For everyone else, it’s a bland, instantly forgettable and occasionally laughably bad romcom, rescued only by Locklear’s appealing performance and Duff’s perky teen queen persona.
The Perfect Man (PG)