The Perfect Man (2005) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: PG for thematic elements
Running Time: 96 min.

Cast: Hilary Duff, Heather Locklear, Chris Noth, Ben Feldman, Mike O'Malley, Vanessa Lengies, Carson Kressley, Aria Wallace, Dennis DeYoung (cameo)
Director: Mark Rosman
Screenplay: Gina Wendkos
Review published June 22, 2005

With a premise uncannily similar to the 1990 quirky Cher/Winona Ryder vehicle Mermaids, The Perfect Man feels like a mishmash of romantic comedy conventions employed in almost every successful venture since, from Sleepless in Seattle to You've Got Mail, and all points in between.  That's not to say that this belongs in the same league as those films, because this one lacks the credible actors and smart scripts that drove the others to success.  While it may be pleasant in its own way, it's also maddening just how many contrivances are prolonged and contorted in order to keep the feeble and farfetched premise going.  Of course, any film that asks you to believe that Heather Locklear would have to practically beg men to be interested in dating her is already a stretch, but how about believing that she is willing to marry the first man to show enough interest in her to get married despite the fact that she no longer even finds him to be worthy date material?

The story: Hilary Duff (Cheaper by the Dozen, Agent Cody Banks) plays Holly, a 16-year-old girl that deeply resents having to move to a new state every time her dear mother Jean (Locklear, Uptown Girls) breaks up with a man.  Their latest relocation is Brooklyn, New York, where Jean earns her living as a baker with panache, while constantly keeping her eye open for the perfect guy.  Jean's search has even started affecting Holly's life, as she uses every opportunity to let everyone know she's available.  To keep her sated, and to raise up her mother's spirits a little, Holly decides to invent a "secret admirer" for her mother that will not only give her hope, but may in fact fulfill Holly's wish that Jean get together with the single uncle of her best friend (Lengies, "American Dreams"), the handsome restaurant owner, Ben (Noth, Double Whammy).  While absent in body, Holly is able to "court" her mother using flowers, letters, e-mails, and even instant messaging.  However, this will only work to some point, and with Ben not knowing a thing about it, how will Holly ever be able to make things work without completely upsetting both of them?

The Perfect Man sports likeable actors and an amiable story, and even contains a moment of amusement now and then.  However, at the same time, the script by Gina Wendkos (Coyote Ugly, The Princess Diaries) contains far too many phony situations and not enough for most of us to truly relate to.  As directed by Mark Rosman (A Cinderella Story, Model Behavior), A Perfect Man is the kind of movie that could never really be deemed as anything more than passably entertaining at best, as though the creators just want to offer up a product to appeal to females and teenagers during a season that generally doesn't cater strictly to that demographic.  Basically, its just another example of a film created more out of marketing reports than out of inspiration, and the commercialism shows in every frame, with its non-stop pop soundtrack and Krispy Kreme product placements shoehorned in at every opportunity.

Outside of the stars, the film lacks any real distinction -- completely forgettable fluff to watch for 90 minutes and quickly forget before 90 seconds passes after.  While this glossy commercialism will probably be right up your typical Hilary Duff fan's alley, most other viewers will find The Perfect Man to be the perfect cure for insomnia.

Qwipster's rating:

2005 Vince Leo