PERFECT SCORE, THE
Kyle (Chris Evans) is a high school senior with dreams to become an architect. But his aptitude scores to get into college don’t rate. Together with his best friend Matty (Bryan Greenberg) who wants to university to be with his girlfriend, Kyle devises a plan to steal the questions and answers to the test. They start to assemble a team for the job: Anna (Erika Christensen) the perfect student, basketball star Desmond (Darius Miles), Francesca (Scarlett Johansson) whose father owns the building, and pot-smoking Roy (Leonardo Nam) who overhears their plans.
Review by Louise Keller:
A teenage heist movie, The Perfect Score is an often amusing and entertaining story about dreams. But this is no ordinary loot they’re after. It’s the answers to the vital SAT exams, which one way or another, will determine these college students’ future. Or so they think. Chances are, if you live in Australia, you’ve never heard of the SAT. The students call it ‘Suck Ass Test’, but in fact, it stands for Scholastic Aptitude Test and is an integral part of the American education system. But where you live is incidental, because the heart of the story focuses on how a group of six students believe – each for a different reason – that their happiness relies on the results of this assessment test.
From the makers of Big Fat Liar, the script concentrates not on the heist, but on the individual characters and their motivations. When we first meet this bunch of students, there is no apparent common link. Chris Evans’ Kyle is the pragmatic organiser who knows what he wants, but is weighed down by the pressure from his ambitious parents. His friend Matty (Bryan Greenberg, endearing) has no illusions about his abilities: he only wants to go to University to be with his girlfriend. He thinks he is a loser. Then there’s Erika Christensen’s Anna, the ideal student whose sensible choices hide the fact that she is a romantic at heart. Scarlett Johansson’s sexy-punk Francesca is at the other end of the spectrum: she is a rebel with attitude, whose outrageous behaviour is aimed directly at her disdain for her wealthy father’s lifestyle. Desmond (pro basketball player Darius Miles making his film debut) has his future set on the court, but his hard-working mom (beautifully played by Tyra Ferrell) wears him down with endless pressure. The light relief comes from Argentinian-born Leonardo Nam, whose lunatic, free-spirited Roy spends all his energies tripping on recreational drugs.
They’re a diverse and unlikely bunch, and the film builds up a full head of steam as plans for the heist, albeit ludicrous, take effect. It’s not about the tension or whether or not the heist will succeed. The emphasis is on what goes wrong and the unlikely way that the students go about solving their problems. There’s a funny moment as Kyle, Matty and Francesca enter the building wearing unlikely disguises of zombie mask, snorkel and headless blob, and I chuckled when Kyle unwittingly puts the exam paper through the shredder instead of the photocopier. The resolution plays out surprisingly well, but the best thing in the film is Scarlett Johansson who brings more than a spark to her flame-coloured ‘forbidden fruit’ vixen, wearing fruit-themed knickers and a cherry-decorated necklace for good measure.
While the ideas may be better than the ultimate execution, The Perfect Score is an undemanding and different twist on the college comedy.
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PERFECT SCORE, THE (M)
CAST: Erika Christensen, Chris Evans, Bryan Greenberg, Scarlett Johansson, Darius Miles, Leonardo Nam, Rob Boyce, Tyra Ferrell, Fulvio Cecere, Vanessa Angel
PRODUCER: Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Donald J. Lee Jr., Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin
DIRECTOR: Brian Robbins
SCRIPT: Mark Schwahn, Marc Hyman, Jon Zack (Mark Hyman, Jon Zack - story)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: J. Clark Mathis
EDITOR: Ned Bastille
MUSIC: John Murphy
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jaymes Hinkle
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 25, 2004