The Perfect Man

It's too easy to make fun of Hilary Duff movies. She picks awful films that pander to her fan base instead of trying to better herself as an actor. She is effectively pigeonholing herself into one genre. Other actors around her age like Lindsay Lohan and particularly Mandy Moore are branching off into different types of films and expanding their abilities while Duff (Raise Your Voice, A Cinderella Story) wallows in the same tweener type junk. To her credit, The Perfect Man is a bit different from her other films, but trolls all new depths of stupidity.

Duff is Holly Hamilton, the harried daughter of Jean (Heather Locklear, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Uptown Girls). Jean is a baker who has serious relationship problems. She's a single mother to Holly and Zoe (Aria Wallace), and, to put it lightly, desperate. She hurries into relationships with all sorts of losers, and when the relationships inevitably crash, she literally runs away. She uproots her family and moves to a whole new city, only to repeat the entire process. Holly vents in a blog (well, as of this moment, blogs are now uncool), and she has good reason. She never stays around long enough to make friends. She has never been to a dance.

The real sad aspect of The Perfect Man is that underneath all of the fromage, there is a real story about Holly relationship with Jean, and Jean's phobia of trust and relationships. Instead, Michael McQuown, Heather Robinson, Katherine Torpey, and Gina Wendkos (The Princess Diaries 2, The Princess Diaries) construct a baffling story about a made-up boyfriend for Jean. Holly and her friend Amy (Vanessa Lengies) make up "Ben," a perfect man modeled off the advice of her Uncle Ben (Chris Noth, Mr. 3000, The Glass House). Holly believes that if Jean thinks that she has a secret admirer, it will prevent her from falling for a loser, thus keeping them in their new apartment in Brooklyn.

This means that at one point, Holly flirts with her mother over e-mail. Director Mark Rosman (A Cinderella Story, The Invader) somehow failed to see how disturbing this is. And of course, lying is bad, so at some point, Jean will discover the ruse and there will be a bunch of crying on all parts. The Perfect Man fails because everything seems so artificial. The screenwriters manufacture a plainly ludicrous situation in order to try to milk some emotion. It's hard to imagine Jean functioning as a mother if she's as fragile as the film portrays her as. It's harder to imagine where they get all the money to move given she bakes cakes for a living.

Duff is, well, Duff. Interestingly enough, she takes a step back in the film (yet she still gets top billing), taking less screen time than she usually does. Her character does have a romantic subplot, but it doesn't overpower the movie and surprisingly fits decently with the overall plot. But she's still playing the same girl next door, underappreciated, cute bright girl she always plays, and it's way too old. The other actors are surprisingly good. Locklear and Noth act like they stepped on the set of a different movie. And one joke about Styx, where lead singer Dennis DeYoung plays an impersonator of himself is actually really funny. But how many fans of Hilary Duff will actually get the joke? Or even know who Styx is? If Rosman really wanted to do something interesting he would have case Locklear's husband Richie Sambora. But that would require thought, something The Perfect Man is devoid of.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 36 minutes, Rated PG for some mildly suggestive content.

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