Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 100 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 15+. This is a thriller primarily based around romance and sex, so there is a good amount of violence (characters are beaten, fight with each other, killed in various ways like car accidents and suffocation, and you see dead bodies) and a good amount of sexual content (a few different implied sex scenes, some kissing, bodies seen in profile while showering, sexy dancing, and someone watching another couple have sex). Also some cursing, a sex tape is a prominent plot point, and some drinking.
A cheesy melodrama more fit to a cable channel like Lifetime than the big screen, ‘The Perfect Guy’ is a poor update to the ‘Basic Instinct’ mold. It’s neither enjoyable nor creative in any way.
By Roxana Hadadi
“The Perfect Guy” is certainly not a movie for teen viewers, but it’s also not enjoyable for adult viewers, either. This derivative thriller makes no creative choices and offers no unique characters, instead crafting a poor update to “Basic Instinct” that does little to reinvigorate the genre.
The film focuses on the beautiful and ambitious Leah (Sanaa Lathan, of “Contagion”), a lobbyist increasingly unhappy with the lack of progress in her relationship with boyfriend David (Morris Chestnut, of “Identity Thief”). She wants a husband, children, and a family life, and after a few years of dating, she thinks that should all be right around the corner—but architect David doesn’t agree. After the breakup, Leah feels particularly adrift, leading to lines of dialogue like this: “I’m 36 years old! I’ve been dating my whole life. I’m dated out!”
But things start looking up when she meets Carter (Michael Ealy, of “Think Like a Man Too”), who charms her by gifting her an iced latte at their local coffee shop and rescuing her from a pushy drunk at a club. Soon they’re dancing up on each other, falling into bed together, and he’s meeting her friends and family, earning their affection and approval as well.
“Holy mother of God!” Leah swoons after their first date, and “He might be the perfect guy!” Leah’s best friend exclaims. Except for where, you know, he’s so clearly not.
Things go south jarringly: A man asks Leah an innocent question and Carter almost beats him to death; a breakup leads Carter, who works in “corporate espionage,” to break into Leah’s home and spy on her; he kidnaps her beloved cat. Amid all this, Leah and David get back together and she starts pursuing legal protection against Carter, but no one can help her. She’ll just have to help herself.
Amid a sea of cliches, the female empowerment element of “The Perfect Guy” might be the worst, reminiscent of other subpar thrillers like 2012’s “Gone.” Leah has to learn to fight back! Leah has to take charge of her life! But that path of self-actualization isn’t rendered in any unique or creative way; it’s just another woman-with-a-gun storyline. Coupled with the farcical way in which Carter operates—filming sex tapes of her, throwing old women down flights of stairs—and there is no actual dread here, no sense of realism. And yet the film doesn’t veer enough into campiness to be enjoyable in that so-bad-it’s-good way, either; this is just an unfulfilling middle ground.
There are ways “The Perfect Guy” could have been more interesting, like if Leah, portrayed as so intelligent and powerful, had found ways to combat Carter that were equal to his crafty unhingedness, or if her character development was more than just good-girl-meets-sexy-bad-boy.
But this isn’t the kind of movie that warrants any kind of post-film discussion—what are viewers going to talk about, how rich everyone was and how much sex they all had? This is the kind of movie that should have been a hate-watch on Lifetime, not a mainstream release. “The Perfect Guy” doesn’t do anything differently, and its formulaic handling of an already-formulaic story makes it particularly tedious.
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