PERFECT MAN, THE
Holly (Hilary Duff) has spent most of her sixteen years moving - from city to city. Packing boxes appear when her unlucky-in-love mum, Jean (Heather Locklear), breaks up with the loser she has been dating. When Holly's new school friend, Amy (Vanessa Lengies), introduces her to her man-about-town uncle Ben (Chris Noth), she gets an idea to create an imaginary 'Perfect Man' for her mother, who is dating the most unsuitable, nerdy, crooning, baker, Lenny (Mike O'Malley). Meantime, Holly has made an impression on her classmate Adam (Ben Feldman), who becomes a reluctant participant in the charade. Each lie brings a new layer of complexity, and Holly tries desperately to juggle her way out of the mess.
Review by Louise Keller:
Hilary Duff is the girl most teenage girls would like to be. The Meg Ryan of the school set, not only is she is gorgeous to look at with classic features, but delivers a charismatic and appealing package. In The Perfect Man, her Holly is an expert at new beginnings. After all, her cake-decorator mum, Jean (Heather Locklear), has an unshakeable habit of jumping headfirst into unsuitable relationships, and then quickly moving house when things don't work out. The well-worn Patsy Cline tune 'I Fall To Pieces' is the sure sign that it's time to move on for Holly and her 8 year old sister Zoe (Aria Wallace). A newly broken heart means a new town, a new school and new friends. And Holly has acquired a pragmatic defence-system: she never allows herself to get close to anyone. The only one listening when she opens up her heart is her Ipod, where her digital diary absorbs all her thoughts.
But Holly is tired of seeing her mum hurt and picks up some hints from Ben (Chris Noth), the uncle of her new school pal, Amy (Vanessa Lengies). He's so urbane, a debonair restaurateur who is as intelligent as he is sensitive. He seems to know what makes a woman feel special and as though she is floating on a cloud: like giving her an orchid and telling her he would rather be with her than anywhere else. What better way to make her mum feel happy, than to fabricate Mr Perfect, who sends orchids, poetic notes and empathetic emails. Holly and Amy even surreptitiously take Ben's photo and send it to Jean. And that is even before she knows that he fills in The Times crossword in pen - like her mother.
Meanwhile, Jean has caught the eye of the chubby baker with whom she works, who is stuck like glue in the 80s and is enamoured of his 1980 Pontiac hard-top. He takes her to retro concerts and sings soppy songs under her window at night, like a love-sick puppy. Things get more and more complicated, of course... one little lie turns into a maze of hurdles. And then Holly's class-mate Adam (Ben Feldman) gets involved, when she asks him to telephone her mum, pretending to be Ben, in order to break it off.
It's funny, poignant and the characters are appealing as mother and daughter learn from each other's relationship that running away is no solution. There's an amusing sub-plot about Lance (Carson Kressley), a limp-wristed barman whose Christmases all come at once when a bunch of big, burly workmen come into the bar as part of a planned distraction. 'Love is friendship on fire' says Adam, and the carefully orchestrated scene under the Brooklyn Bridge when Jean and Ben are to meet for the first time is a fizzer, but not in the way you might expect.
The film has a very sweet heart and endorses the notion of nurturing one's self before looking for that perfect someone who will make you better than you already are. Two halves does not always make for a perfect whole. The Perfect Man is a perfect date movie - a well-made chick-flick with cross over appeal.
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PERFECT MAN, THE (PG)
CAST: Hilary Duff, Heather Locklear, Chris Noth, Amy Acker, Dennis DeYoung, Mazin Elsadig, Ben Feldman
PRODUCER: Susan Duff, Marc E. Platt, Dawn Wolfrom
DIRECTOR: Mark Rosman
SCRIPT: Gina Wendkos (story by Michael McQuown, Heather Robinson, Katherine Torpey)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John R. Leonetti
EDITOR: Cara Silverman
MUSIC: Christophe Bec
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jasna Stefanovic
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 8, 2005 (Qld); September 15, 2005 (other states)
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
VIDEO RELEASE: December, 2005