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The Perfect Man (1/10)

If it’s true that 10,000 monkeys in a room with 10,000 typewriters might produce one script of Hamlet, then it’s also possible that the other 9,999 will produce the script for “The Perfect Man.” Rarely will you see a more inane movie. But it’s a movie with a purpose. Inked by Gena Wendkos, who also wrote “The Princess Diaries” (2001) and had a story credit on “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” (2004), it continues in the same vein with the same goal: the marginalization of men.

Jean Hamilton (Heather Locklear) is a self absorbed single mother of two daughters, Holly (Hillary Duff), and Holly’s younger sister. Jean had both children out of wedlock and raised them without the benefit of a husband-father. The idiotic plot is based on Jean constantly getting dumped by men. Straining our credulity beyond the breaking point, whenever she’s dumped she moves the entire family to a new city. Finally she arrives in Brooklyn, only to be courted by a jerky baker, Lenny Norton (Mike O’Malley), where she works. Meanwhile, Holly miraculously immediately has a best friend at school, Amy Pearl (Vanessa Lengies). Picture this, Holly is a new kid in school, coming in the middle of the year, and right away, without an extra breath, she’s got a bosom buddy. Amy has an uncle, Ben Cooper (Chris Noth), who owns a tony restaurant. Holly doesn’t like Lenny, so she concocts a romance between Ben and Jean by sending Jean flowers and emails and such, ostensibly from Ben.

There were so many things I despised that I’m just going to enumerate them and be done with it.

1.      I didn’t like Hillary Duff and her pseudo syrupy character. Alas, Hillary is in almost every scene. They must have had to search high and low for a boy friend short enough for the vertically challenged Hillary, and they found one in Ben Feldman, who plays Adam, a cartoonist who is supremely confident but is never shown with anyone else but Holly, always conveniently near him in school.

2.      Heather Locklear is ridiculously self centered. In one scene she is at a welcoming assembly for new students and parents at Holly’s high school. She gets up and makes a plea for mixers for single parents. Giving an idea of how clueless these filmmakers are, this imbecilic scene is the one they have distributed for the stars to show on the talk shows. Despite her fatal flaw, her character becomes admirable, an amazing switch from someone who apparently is only thinking of catching some guy, any guy, to the detriment of her children.

3.      I liked Chris Noth on Law & Order, but his appearance in this film is little more than a cameo. Giving him a co-star billing is about as honest as everything Holly does in the film. This is a chick flick, one that says that men are unimportant, despite the misleading title. What Wendkos and director Mark Rosman are really saying is that “the perfect man” is one who is not present.

4.      The entire plot is based on dishonesty and deception and trivializes them. Holly misleads her vulnerable mother throughout, playing on her emotions.

5.      Holly is really a piece of work. Even though Ben is extraordinarily friendly and cooperative with little Holly, in order to keep Jean and Ben from actually meeting (since Ben has no idea what’s going on) when Jean goes to Ben’s restaurant with a group of friends, Holly causes the fire-prevention sprinklers go on, completely destroying the evening for an entire restaurant full of people and probably subjecting Ben to a flood of claims, if not law suits and lost customers. Not to worry, Holly successfully kept Ben and Jean from meeting so all is well. Could pretty little syrupy sweet Holly be more of an ingrate?

6.      She masquerades as Ben and initiates an exchange of emails with her mother, getting her mother to open up her vulnerable heart in the emails. Not to worry, this gives Holly an insight into her mother, so all is well.

7.      As mentioned, Jean has become pregnant twice with out of wedlock babies. Not to worry, this is Hollywood and who needs a father? Jean wants a man for herself, not a father for her children. The only good thing I have to say about this is that she didn’t have abortions; she did bear them and raised them. But she obviously continues to sleep around; her morals are those of a rabbit. Maybe the reason she can’t get a man is based on the old theory, why buy the cow when the milk’s so cheap? Or maybe Wendkos just doesn’t think that men, in the form of husbands and fathers, are that important. The message to the little girls watching this: you want a baby? Have one; don’t worry about marriage or a husband or a father for it.

8.      Holly and Amy and Adam go to the most unrealistic high school this side of the Universal Studio sound stages. Maybe “Blackboard Jungle” (1955) was a stretch, but it was closer to reality than this idealistic piece of paradise.

9.      Holly is the biggest liar this side of Hitler. Not to worry, this film is based on the premise that “all’s well that ends well.”

It’s deplorable that Universal and Rosman and Wendkos are out peddling this male-denigrating bunkum to impressionable young teenage girls.

June 14, 2005