You can’t get much lazier than The Perfect Man, a romantic comedy short on romance and comedy. Featuring a mother and daughter duo played by Heather Locklear and Hilary Duff, it instead serves up idiocy by the bucketfuls. The two engage in decision-making that will make you seriously question the judgment of both characters, with the prize for most irrational ending in a frustrating toss-up.
Jean, the mother, earns the distinction early on when she announces to her two daughters that the family is shipping out of town, again, and just when teenager Holly was readying herself for her first dance. The reason? Her latest boyfriend has just broken up with her. I guess one night stands, drunk karaoke, or yoga don’t exist in her world. This time, they head for Brooklyn, where it seems a single mother can settle into a cozy two bedroom flat on a baker’s wage. Ever on the hunt for The Perfect Man, she grabs opportunity wherever she finds it, and the first chance is at a PTA meeting at Holly’s new school. Jean’s desperation runs thick and fast, though not so much that she’ll say “yes” to an surprise proposal by her lumpy Styx-loving coworker (Mike O’Malley). Her desire to find love and to be a good mother earn sympathy, but someone help a girlfriend out. She needs to find herself, and a hobby.
Holly realizes this and, wanting the best for her otherwise loving mom, decides to set her up with a fake online date. I can see the desperation on her part; she’s the new girl in school and has already been pegged as the one with the lovesick mom. It’s meant to be a quick fix; Holly will write a few emails as TPM to humor her mother and take Jean’s mind off more embarrassing moves, but things get out of hand when Jean actually falls for her phantom lover. Holly has no choice but to perpetuate the lie by enlisting the help of her new best friend’s charming Uncle Ben (Chris Noth), a handsome restaurateur who advises the girls on how to woo women (it’s all about the orchids) and, unbeknownst to him, lends his likeness to the project.
But of course Holly does have a choice, the one in which she acts reasonably and either confesses to her mother or seeks advice from a sober adult, like Jean’s black best friend and boss (Kym Whitley). You could mine a lot more out of their characters, especially the root of Jean’s insecurity, if the whole movie didn’t turn on one long gag about the bad use of technology. Instead, it’s a joke that tries too hard. It goes the distance with whatever harebrained idea pops up, not realizing that crazy doesn’t equal funny or romantic. Who would want to spend time with people so misguided and unaware? Locklear doesn’t help the cause by acting like she has some bills to pay. I get it; we all have something better to do that doesn’t involve this movie.
Prod: Billy Higgins
Dir: Mark Rosman
Writer: Gina Wendkos
Cast: Hilary Duff, Heather Locklear, Chris Noth, Mike O’Malley, Ben Feldman, Vanessa Lengies, Caroline Rhea, Kym Whitley, Aria Wallace
Time: 100 min
Country: United States