The Perfect Man Review
By Shawn McKenzie 06/17/2005
Maybe it’s my fault. The Perfect Man is the third Hilary Duff movie I’ve ever seen (the other two being Agent Cody Banks and The Lizzie McGuire Movie, both from 2003) and the fourth movie overall for this site (fellow Entertain Your Brain contributor Lily Mai did a review of Duff’s movie Raise Your Voice back in March of this year.) All of the reviews were average to bad. As you will note the rating of this movie below, it is the worst Duff movie I have ever seen so far. My problem might be that I haven’t seen enough of Duff’s filmography though.
Sixteen-year-old Holly Hamilton (Duff) is sick of having to move to new places and having to get to know a new school and new people all of the time. Is her family in the military? No…her 42-year-old single mom, a cake baker/decorator named Jean (Heather Locklear), moves her and her little seven-year-old sister Zoe (Aria Wallace) around the country every time the elder Hamilton woman breaks up with a boyfriend (my first thought was…“Huh?”) Holly records her woes in a blog called “Girl on the Move.” After getting dumped by her latest boyfriend, who was cheating on her anyway, Jean packs up the girls and leaves their current home in Wichita, KS (apparently there are no other single men left in Kansas), to move to Brooklyn, where she will work in a bakery called DeMarco’s Groceries run by her old friend Dolores (Kym Whitley.) Holly says goodbye to her Wichita friend (Maggie Castle) and starts school in Brooklyn, where she meets two new friends, Amy Pearl (Vanessa Lengies) and Adam Forrest (Ben Feldman.) Amy has a thick Brooklyn accent and an “attitude” (of course), while comic book geek Adam is the obvious boyfriend character (why do all comic book geeks in popular culture have to be good looking and have a talent for drawing comics? I want a comic book geek to look like Comic Book Guy, a.k.a. Jeff Albertson from “The Simpsons,” and have no discernable talent.) Meanwhile, Jean meets co-worker Gloria (Caroline Rhea), who is engaged to be married, and bread man Lenny Horton (Mike O’Malley), who likes her, and she likes him, because Lenny is single and she is desperate. They live in a two-story brownstone…on a cake baker’s salary (whatever! Dolores must pay Jean well!) After declaring her mother’s utter desperateness at a school board meeting, Holly gets fed up and conspires with Amy to find “the perfect man” for Jean. Amy knows of the perfect man, which turns out to be Mr. Big…er…I mean Amy’s Uncle Ben Cooper (Chris Noth), who runs a local restaurant called River Bistro with gay bartender Lance (Carson Kressley.) Unfortunately, Ben seems to be planning a wedding with Amber (Michelle Nolden), so he might not be available for Holly’s mother. He is an authority on romance for some reason though, and he helps Holly with Jean’s romantic problems under the guise of writing a paper for school. Holly decides to make up a fake perfect man so that Jean will be happy and not hook up with losers like Lenny, who takes Jean on a date to see Kilroy, a Styx cover band (Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung plays himself impersonating…himself), in his Trans Am. Ben tells Holly that women like orchids, so she sends Jean the orchid in a sitcom-like “wacky” fashion. Jean thinks that Lenny sent the flower (which leads into the aforementioned Styx date), so Holly goes back to Ben, who tells her a nice note and a peppy CD will work on her mother (Jean prefers to sulk to Patsy Cline.) Holly does just that with a note mentioning her mother’s favorite interests and a CD with the song “I Will Learn to Love Again” by Kaci (given to her by Ben.) Jean realizes that the note and the CD aren’t from Lenny, and she is intrigued, but she is impatient. After sending Jean another letter, using Ben’s first name and picture, Holly, in the persona of Ben, mentions that he is on business in China for a few months, but he looks forward to seeing Jean when he gets back. Holly borrows Adam’s computer (Holly shares her computer with her mom) and emails Jean (using a created email address) all sorts of romantic things (ummm…ewww.) The emails turn into instant messages, with “Ben” having the IM name BrooklynBoy and Jean having the IM name PassionateBaker (double ewww…I’m glad the movie never came close to having them do cybersex.) Jean starts to fall in love with “Ben” and dumps Lenny, but when he shows up outside her window to lip-synch a cheesy version of Styx’s “Lady,” her desperation factor reaches its peak. Jean accepts Lenny’s proposal of marriage, which makes Holly run out of ideas. She knows that Ben and her mom are perfect for one another (just because they both do the crossword puzzle in pen and stare at the moon), but since Ben is supposedly taken, Holly starts to become as desperate as Jean.
What made this movie so bad was that it was completely predictable. I knew everything that was going to happen from the beginning of the movie until the obvious happy ending. Director Mark Rosman, who directed last year’s Duff movie A Cinderella Story, worked with four screenwriters (Michael McQuown, Heather Robinson, and Katherine Torpey, who wrote the story; Gina Wendkos wrote the screenplay) to make this clichéd vehicle for the former Disney Channel star. I really think that Duff needs to have her agent put her in a movie like Mean Girls, which gave Lindsey Lohan superstar status and critical praise. Otherwise, she will churn out bad flick after bad flick, as Freddie Prinze Jr. does.
This is Duff’s movie unfortunately, and everyone else feels like a supporting character, including Locklear. Almost everyone does a version of another character that they have done before. Noth does Mr. Big from HBO’s “Sex and the City,” Lengies does a present-day version of her character on NBC’s “American Dreams,” and O’Malley plays the same single schlub (as opposed to a married schlub) that he does on CBS’s “Yes, Dear.” Kressley makes his acting debut in this movie, but he might as well be doing his persona from Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (I’m surprised that the rest of the Fab Five didn’t show up.) This is Locklear’s second movie in a row where she plays a mother (if you don’t count 2003’s Looney Tunes: Back in Action), and the eternally hot actress finally shows her age here for the first time.
Predicable story, predictable acting, Duff…what is there to like about The Perfect Man? Not much, I’m afraid. Like I said, maybe it’s my fault that I haven’t seen enough Duff movies, but with both Banks and Lizzie being Rotten Tomatoes’ best movies (the site gave them both a 39% average), I’m guessing that it would be a fruitless exercise. The only thing that would shock me now is if she appeared in a movie that had a movie rating above a PG rating (and I’m not counting her minor role in 2002’s R-rated Human Nature.) The only thing that she has ever done that has impressed me was her guest appearance on CBS’s now-cancelled “Joan of Arcadia”…only to be upstaged by her older sister Haylie Duff on that same show the very next week. Duff may have found the perfect man, but I have yet to see a perfect Duff movie.
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