"The Perfect Man" is a cutesy-poo, happy-go-luckylittle movie about horrible, irresponsible, selfish people.
A blindly disconcerting fantasy aimed at girls in theirearly teens -- no one else could stomach it -- the movie stars Hilary Duffas Holly, a perky 16-year-old who isn't smart enough to realize that inventinga secret admirer to woo her lonely, romantically desperate mom is not justa gross invasion of privacy, but also downright cruel.
She sends flowers, and exchanges flirtatious emails andinstant messages, toying with her mother's heart. She models the mysteryman after a friend's handsome uncle (even using his picture, thus runningthe risk of Mom awkwardly bumping into the guy) and enlists another friendto call and pretend to be him.
As her scheme spins out of control, she causes $100,000-plusin damage to a friend's restaurant (which would certainly have to closefor repairs) and ruins a perfect stranger's wedding in an insultingly contrivedmisunderstanding. But Holly doesn't learn a single lesson from any of thisand never apologizes -- not even to her mom -- because these terrible blundersthat could destroy people's lives are all supposed to be just oh so adorableand funny.
It's hard to imagine what kind of warped Hollywood psycheswouldn't be able to recognize that this premise is -- at the very least-- in appallingly poor taste. But director Mark Rosman (coming off of Duff'slast vehicle, "A Cinderella Story") and the picture's quartetof paint-by-numbers screenwriters don't stop there. It seems the appledoesn't fall far from the tree.
Holly's imaginary matchmaking is motivated by the factthat her stinking-of-desperation mother (Heather Locklear, finally startingto look her age and playing the role well) is so self-centered and recklessthat she pulls up stakes and drags her kids (Holly and her geeky-cute 8-year-oldsister) across the country whenever she gets dumped or cheated on by oneof her string of loser boyfriends. The family has landed in a studio backlotversion of Brooklyn this time (insert bad accents here), and Holly's meddlingis a half-baked attempt to stay put for once.
When "The Perfect Man" isn't busy dressing uprampant family dysfunction in candy-coated sweetness and light, it seemsto be doing cartwheels in an attempt to make every detail of the plot ascliche as possible, as when Holly arrives at her new school and meetsa new best friend and a dreamy, charming, confident but non-threateningboy (ooo! -- and he's an artist too!) before the bell rings for her veryfirst class. And in an apparent attempt to make the film grating and datedtoo, Rosman gives Holly her own internet blog (as an excuse for twinklynarration) and tosses in an extended cameo by "Queer Eye for the StraightGuy's" stereotype-flogging screaming queen Carson Kressley.
This putrid movie -- which might have made a decent darkcomedy if it weren't so busy trying to be cute -- has only two things goingfor it:
1) Hilary Duff has a realistic body type, and looks lovelywith hips and a 27- or 28-inch waist, so if she must be a role model, atleast she's one that won't inspire young girls to put their fingers downtheir throats.
2) Through the sheer power of a his good performance asthe unwitting uncle used to bait Holly's mom, Chris Noth ("Sex andthe City") manages to make his cardboard cutout of a "PerfectMan" seem the most human of all the movie's characters.