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THE PERFECT GUY

 

Not So Perfect

Sony Pictures Releasing
 100 Minutes
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: David M. Rosenthal 
Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy, Morris Chestnut
C
The Perfect Guy

Frequent moviegoers will probably immediately note some similarities while watching The Perfect Guy between that movie and the summer’s earlier stalker film, The Gift. Both films feature female protagonists living in large suburban houses with lots of glass in the walls. And both films have creepy stalkers with an affinity for the women’s pets and who also like to get inside the homes and poke through their targets’ belongings. But there is one big difference between the movies. The Gift has an extremely clever screenplay and lots of twists in it, while The Perfect Guy is merely perfectly routine and predictable.

 

The cast of Perfect Guy can’t be faulted for its shortcomings. Sanaa Lathan plays Leah, a successful 30-something businesswoman who has everything but what she really wants, a family. Boyfriend Dave (Morris Chestnut) loves her but isn’t sure he’s ready to settle down, so she sends him packing. Seemingly minutes later, the “perfect” Carter (Michael Ealy) comes into her life. He’s well-to-do, devoted to her, great with her friends and her parents and even wants plenty of little ones running around, since he came from a broken home himself.

 

But, as anyone who has seen the ridiculously revealing trailer already knows, Carter has something else that’s not so perfect: insane jealousy and a vicious temper. When a man admires Carter’s classic car while he’s in a convenience store paying for gas, Carter assumes the man is hitting on Leah and in turn starts hitting on the man rather more brutally. Leah is understandably shocked at a temper fit that came out of nowhere, seemingly “like a light switched on.”

 

Fortunately for Leah, Dave shows up again at the opportune time, and she has little difficulty choosing between her two suitors. And, not surprisingly, Carter doesn’t take the rejection rather well and begins following Leah and exploring her house. Since he is a computer security expert, his surveillance enables him to get access to her work and social media records, and he is able to circulate enough embarrassing material about Leah to cause her to lose her job. Naturally, Carter is also clever enough to cover his tracks just enough as far as the police are concerned so they can’t prove anything.

 

The Perfect Guy is, in many ways, merely an updated version of the old Lifetime Channel woman-in-peril movies with modern day computer technology. Lathan, Ealy, and Chestnut are all familiar faces with TV viewers, alternating between appearances on the big and small screens. In addition, the PG-13 rated level of sex and violence in the film are muted enough for basic cable viewing. Most annoyingly, the moviemakers assume that the audience are complete idiots incapable of figuring anything out for themselves unless the script rubs their noses in it.

 

Thus, when Leah invites Carter to her home for the first time, she forgets her key and has to get her spare, which is concealed under a fake decorative rock. Naturally Carter notices, making his later break-in much easier. And Leah’s nosy neighbor (Tess Harper) also notices and makes sure Carter realizes how nosy she is, leading to a highly predictable non-accident the neighbor suffers later in the film.

 

The film’s script is flawed in other ways as well. The movie relies heavily on coincidence, including one instance in which an automobile accident occurs in precisely the right manner to meet the plot’s demands. Also, the film’s characters coneveniently act just as stupid as needed in any particular scene. Carter, who takes advantage of knowing about the hiding place for Leah’s key, conveniently leaves his own door exposed so she can turn the tables on him when the plot demands it.

 

The screenplay of Perfect Guy was written by Tyger Williams, whose only previous credited feature screenplay was Menace II Society all the way back in 1993. That may explain the rather complete lack of subtlety in the movie’s plot. But director David M. Rosenthal deserves some of the blame as well. The movie sets ups a final confrontation between Leah and Carter, but viewers expecting something out of Fatal Attraction will be disappointed as it turns out to be rather perfunctory, and the big plot element is, no surprise here, foreshadowed by a lengthy conversation Leah has with another character in an earlier scene.

 

The Perfect Guy is not a total disaster, however. The story may be predictable, but the material has its melodramatic appeal. There’s a reason that Lifetime kept churning these movies out for years. Also, the actors don’t sleepwalk their way through their roles. Lathan and Ealy have good chemistry together and a couple of sizzling sex scenes. In fact, their best sex scene is one in which, ironically, nothing happens, as Carter refuses to upset Leah’s parents during his visit, when they are assigned separate rooms. And, when Carter does go off the deep end, Ealy goes suitably, and enjoyably, overboard.

 

I doubt many people will emerge from the theater after having seen Perfect Guy feeling as if they have been ripped off or had a completely wasted evening. The movie delivers an admittedly minimal amount of melodrama and suspense. While the final confrontation isn’t as exciting as it should have been, some of Carter’s earlier stalking is creepy enough and well-staged enough to generate some decent suspense. Still, this is the type of movie that, in the right hands, could have been completely lurid, guilty pleasure trash. As it is, Perfect Guy is nothing more than a TV stalker movie blown up for the big screen. 

Read other reviews of The Perfect Guy:

 

The Perfect Guy (2015) on IMDb

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