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May 12, 2006 |

By Phillip Stephens | Film | May 12, 2006 |

You know, The Perfect Man really caught me off guard. Not because it’s a terrible Frankenstein mishmash of contrivances; not because it’s pointless waste of time and money; and not because it shames the usage of an artistic medium. What really caught me off guard was how offensive all of it was. Quite simply put: This film is bad for you. Seriously, this stupid teeny rom-com has the capacity to assault both the IQ and the quality of life of anyone who has the misfortune to see it.

It seems to be getting to that time where the world of television is encroaching ever more menacingly into the world of cinema. How else could this throwaway Lifetime fluff have made it onto the screen? In terms of plot, The Perfect Man ups the ante from simply being a definitive cliche to non-logic. Bland blonde Heather Locklear plays bland blonde Jean Hamilton, a single mom saddled with two irritating children (Hilary Duff and some other kid). Like all women everywhere, the only path to self-actualization for Jean is to find a man. Sadly (I guess) she has a penchant for dating rock-stupid losers who end up dumping her. Her conclusion after each ignominious relationship ends is to pack up bags and leave town — which the opening segment purports she has done dozens of times. Because … this is logical, right? It’s normal for any person, let alone a single mother, to go through the financial and emotional upheaval of a move just because their boyfriend turned out to be a douchebag after the third date, right? Of course it is. It’s got to be that, instead of a blindingly-dumb pretext for this pitiful story to play itself out, right?

Sorry. I digress in my eagerness to get to the hating of this film. Jean’s oldest daughter Holly (Duff) is understandably sick of this crap. So when Mom starts to get wooed by a Styx-singing oaf, she hatches the world-shatteringly brilliant scheme of inventing a faux-beau for her mother. Before you can say “Sigmund Freud,” Holly is sending flowers, writing love letters, emailing, and instant-messaging Mom pretending to be the perfect guy. Of course, she’s basing most of her information on the real-life hunky uncle of her friend, played by Chris Noth.

Give me a fucking break. Every 10-year-old girl in the audience knows exactly how events will unfold. Everyone knows that Holly’s ruse will provide for idiotic near-misses until the truth is uncovered, at which point everyone will run around with pinched-lips pretending their feelings were hurt, then discover that — gosh, bear with me now, but maybe Mr. Big is the perfect guy for Mama. Maybe the solution to every problem is wrapped up in a dainty little package.

Usually I’m not one to take worthless fluff like this seriously, but there’s something about A Perfect Man’s pretense that raises the bile in back of my throat. This is a film that showcases every vacuous, pandering cliche available in the romantic-comedy genre and offers it as genuine emotional content. Every possibly contrivance is utilized in order to move this festering celluloid turd from point A to point B, and then it has the temerity to wrap itself up suggesting that it’s a paean to mother-daughter relationships and issues of intimacy.

At first glance, this is harmless stuff. At second glance, it’s cloying dreck that simplifies life into pat exchanges and canned circumstance from which fulfillment is a mere giggle away. Anyone with the faintest residue of a human soul should be ashamed of themselves for living in a world that can produce such calculated artificiality. May God have mercy on you, Hilary Duff.

Phillip Stephens is a movie critic for Pajiba.

Film | May 12, 2006 |

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