In their efforts to create a perfect story about two women trying to find the perfect guy, the makers of The Perfect Man seem to have forgotten what it takes to make a perfect movie. OK, now that I’ve gotten the cliché title references out of the way, onto why the film is a perfect disaster. Alright, that was the last one, I promise.
When a gorgeous, intelligent, talented woman is dumped by an average, bone-headed, cheating man whom she was only ever bothering with in the first place on account of a massive inferiority complex, the only logical thing for her to do is to completely pack up her entire household and move to a different state. If you can buy that premise then you’re doing better than I am and you just might enjoy the movie. Everything else about plot makes just about as much sense.
Jean Hamilton (Heather Locklear) is the woman I just described. Her lifestyle is reminiscent of “Quantum Leap” meets “Sex in the City”. Each time her heart gets broken she uproots her two daughters and jumps to someplace new, hoping that the next leap will be the one that takes her to the arms of her soul mate. Jean’s older daughter Holly (Hilary Duff) is determined to end her mother’s self destructive pattern by getting Jean to fall in love with an imaginary perfect man.
Under the guise of research for a homework project, Holly gets advice from a friend’s sweet and sensitive Uncle Ben (Chris Noth) on exactly what the perfect guy would do. Thanks to the deceptive and creepy anonymity of the internet and some smooth talking from Holly’s own love interest, Adam (Ben Feldman), Holly fools Jean into thinking she has finally found the one. As the deception becomes more and more convoluted, the entire plan, along with Holly and Adam’s relationship, inevitably begins to fall apart and Holly discovers her mother isn’t the only one with issues. Never fear. This is a Hilary Duff movie. Everyone gets a happily ever after ending. Well, everyone except for the audience.
The Perfect Man has the feeling of a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film gone terribly wrong. Throw You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle together, add in Joe vs. The Volcano for chaotic effect, leave it in a New York trash can to rot for a few days, whip the entire thing into a Hilary Duff vehicle and you’ve got what the writers probably started with. Edit in an obscene number of ridiculous mistaken-identity gags, tack on an even more ridiculous token gay character played by the host of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (no, I’m not kidding), and for kicks toss in a depressing guest appearance by Styx cameoing as a tribute band to themselves and you’ve got the movie we’re left to try and enjoy.
Anyone not already a Hilary Duff fan between the ages of six and twelve should only see this film if they truly enjoy watching the suffering of actors who deserve better. Most of the cast does the best with what they’re given, but even the best actor can’t cover for a completely horrible script. It’s hard work trying to elevate a textbook Hilary Duff movie to the level of a respectable romantic comedy. Director Mark Rosman doesn’t seem to have offered much help.
Let no one mistake me for an off-the-cuff Hilary Duff hater. I actually kind of liked Raise Your Voice. The Perfect Man, however, is a total theft of the audience’s time and as the lead actor Hilary Duff gets stuck holding the bag. Personally, I would rather have kept my $7, sliced open my fingertips and soaked them in lemon juice for two hours. On the other hand, based on the level of giggling in the theater, pre-teen girls seemed to have liked the show. I see no problem with you parents out there sending your little angels to see the movie, but if you choose to go yourself, be sure to take a pillow.