THE PERFECT MAN
*1/2 (out of 5)
June 17, 2005
Hilary Duff as HOLLY HAMILTON
Heather Locklear as JEAN HAMILTON
Chris Noth as UNCLE BEN
Mike O’Malley as LENNY
Ben Feldman as ADAM
Aria Wallace as ZOE HAMILTON
Directed by: Mark Rosman
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
It’s a shame what’s happened to Hilary Duff. Several years ago, she showed a lot of promise as an unknown. Now, post-Lizzie McGuire fame, Duff has become the poster child for schmaltzy teenage dramas. She’s never expected to act any more – just to be cute – and that’s the basic downfall in “The Perfect Man.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I like Hilary Duff. Maybe it’s just a biological reaction to a cute girl, but I’ve never considered her fame to be a sign of the apocalypse (as I do with Ashlee Simpson). I’ve watched “Lizzie McGuire” – even before she really became famous – and I always thought the girl had talent.
Her biggest problem is that no one lets her show off her talent any more. All she has to do is smile nervously at the camera, and they call that acting.
I’m not saying that you should expect to see Hilary Duff prepping for her Oscar speech any time soon, but she’s better than the roles she’s been given. She’s like Lindsey Lohan without the drunken tabloid rumors, and her movies just seem to go through the motions.
“The Perfect Man” tells the story of a mother who decides to pack up her two daughters and move to a different city whenever she has a boyfriend crisis. An okay premise, I’ll admit. However, I find it hard to have much sympathy for such flimsy character.
When Holly (Duff) and her family finally arrive in Brooklyn for “another adventure,” she tries to change the situation. Instead of letting her mother get involved in another loser relationship, she starts to meddle. (Keep in mind that meddling is the key to any teenage drama.) Holly creates a fictitious secret admirer for her mother, going as far to writing letters and email as well as sending flowers to her.
This is not the most original plot. It’s nothing we haven’t seen already on “Three’s Company” a dozen times. Usually a solid cast can save this kind of story, but the cast just seems to be going through the motions in this film.
In general, it was a wise choice to cast aging hottie Heather Locklear in the role of the mother. More screen time is devoted to her character than you might initially expect, and that helps deflect the burden of the film from Hilary Duff. But it doesn’t save anything. Even this isn’t enough to save the film’s saccharine sweetness.
Case in point, Holly has a sister Zoe, who is played by a young actress named Aria Wallace. Wallace does a great job with what she’s given, but her character is completely disposable and unnecessary. Forget the fact that she’s given equal real estate on the poster with Duff and Locklear. Like Duff, she seems to be there for the sole purpose of looking cute.
And too much cuteness suffocates this movie.
Chris Noth, best known as Mr. Big from “Sex in the City,” is desperately trying to play against type while maintaining a suave demeanor, but the strain seems a bit much for him. And it’s not that much against type, anyway. He’s the good looking, successful, aloof businessman in New York. The only difference is that when the girls talk about him in this film, they’re gobbling down ice cream rather than sucking down cosmopolitans.
Come to think of it, this is the second “Sex in the City” alum that has been saddled in a Hilary Duff vehicle. John Corbett gave up acting to pursue country music after his Duff film. Can we expect the same from Noth? It certainly isn’t a move that would cause anyone to really care.
“The Perfect Man” brings a new meaning to the word “cheese,” but then again, what did you expect from the latest Hilary Duff flick. At least she doesn’t sing in this one.