The Perfect Man (2005) — Ignore the incest subtext, please

“When a woman gets an orchid, she feels like she’s floating on a cloud of infinite possibility”

Justin’s rating: Oh what a horrible movie I see / When renting a Hillary comedy

Justin’s review: For some movies, you just know that special preemptive steps need to be taken to properly document what’s about to be experienced. So knowing the basic plot behind The Perfect Man and preparing myself for the horror contained within, I innocently enticed my wife — the Romance Chick Flick expert in our household — into watching this with me. Aside from the groans and glares in my directions as it was going on, she would vary her routine of dealing with the pain by covering her face with a pillow and beating on it with her fist. Afterward, I asked her for her opinion of the film, what it was like and how it made her feel. This is her quoted response:

“Leftover mucus on used toilet paper.”

That might be telling.

So before I get to reviewing possibly the worst romantic film I’ve ever seen — and yes, people, I’ve seen quite a few — I’m going to allow the filmmakers a modicum of credit. I can see where they were going with the film. I can see that they wanted to make an innocent, sugar-sweet romance flick that somehow reached out to both teenage girls and single moms. I can see the good intentions behind the whole convoluted romantic plot setup.

But that simply does not excuse the depths of putridity that this movie descends to. Good Intentions plus Hillary Duff does not always equal Success. Oh, no. Let me teach you the real algebra, boys and girls.

Hillary Duff — yet another clone of the Hollywood perfect blonde gene pool, who comes complete with her own billion-member teenie fan club and a lip gloss endorsement — is Holly, a put-upon teen. Her life is, like, y’know, so hellacious because she’s never seen a pimple, has an Apple laptop with an unlimited wireless internet connection, and lives in virtual mansions even though her mom only makes $7.50 an hour as a baker.

Speaking of her mom, Heather Locklear is Holly’s single mother, portrayed by the film as being forever desperate for love and failing repeatedly. So much so that whenever she experiences a slight break-up, mom has to uproot all the kids and drag them to a new town. Seriously. And I’m going to be saying “seriously” a lot here, because there’s no way you’re going to believe what happens following.

The first big problem, but by no means the MAIN problem, is that the movie is entirely given over to Holly. Holly is hero. This means we get Holly narrative, Holly blogging, Holly attitude, and Holly sympathy. This is all well and good — except that Holly is just flat-out crazy. This means that by the 41-minute mark, you’re deeply wishing that an extra would just wander on the set and accidentally drop an anvil they were so conveniently carrying on top of Holly’s unused skull.

Holly also brings with her the Holly Theme, which is, “You don’t listen to what I want! What I want is most important!” This is unfortunately brought up again and again, and it’s more of a joy each time to hear it than the previous one.

So Holly’s frustrated that her mom is lonely and keeps moving them like some military family, so Holly comes up with an idea. A bad idea. No, scratch that. An idea spawned from the most hideous demonic spell book ever penned, which was then used to wipe Hitler’s posterior. Holly’s idea is that if she creates a “perfect man” for her mom, said mom would stop dating around and then moving them.

What? That doesn’t sound so bad? Then you didn’t read carefully enough, I assure you. Holly creates a man for her mom. The man doesn’t exist; he’s a bit of sayings from a restaurant owner and the rest from Holly’s own personality. So, in effect, Holly starts courting her own mother. Wooing her. Seducing her. The word “incest” comes to mind, not just once.

And if you think I’m being a little too speculative here, then you’ve never seen the film. It all but leaps out and strangles you with how wrong it all is. Holly sends her mom flowers. Holly writes her mom love letters. Holly starts writing e-mails and chatting her mom up on instant messenger and doing Zeus knows what else online. During all this time, mother is exposing a private and very personal side of herself to her own daughter (unwittingly), very likely saying and mentioning things that children should never, ever know about their own parent.

What’s utterly bizarre is that never once does the movie acknowledge how twisted and messed-up this whole premise is. Sure, there’s a revelation scene where the mom finds out and is slightly appalled, but Holly manages to quickly turn it into another “You never listen to me to see what I want!” rant, and the ethical consequences of this deception are avoided.

Even if we managed to slice away all of the incest, the remains would still form a bad, bad flick. The dialogue kept springing atrocities on us while we were delicately sipping Pepsi to regain our nerves; by the end, all we could smell was Pepsi, for how much it kept shooting out of our noses.

And while I’m certainly no romantic expert, any mention of love and the art of romantically pursuing the person of your dreams in The Perfect Man crosses the border of Ridiculous without a passport and sets up shop in there. You’ll be educated in such a manner that it will literally undo years of slow, patient effort by yourself to learn how not to be a complete fool in front of the opposite sex. Such as, “When a woman gets an orchid, she feels like she’s floating on a cloud of infinite possibility.” Also, “The moon is a ball of magic that reminds us each day has the potential for beauty.”


If Hillary Duff were sitting here in my apartment right now, her vacant expression convincing me that she’s not quite ready to master coordinated breathing and blinking, then my course of action would be simple. I’d shake her, hard, by the shoulders. Speak slowly, with small words: “You made a bad movie, Hillary. You made a movie about incest. You made a movie about everything but love. You make kids think you are cool. Now, get out. Get out of my home, and never come back. You are the worst.”

Didja notice?

  • So… one bad dating experience, and the town is shot for ya? Seems a bit extreme, but okay.
  • A ticket for reckless flirting? AS IF!
  • AHH! HILARY DUFF HAS HER DRIVER’S LICENSE! Cows and small children everywhere count the few hours left in their lives.
  • We so did not need a Duff narration voiceover for this movie. It’s dumb all on its own.
  • It’s tuff being Duff
  • Bad dancing! Really bad dancing!
  • If you were the mom and your daughter just told you she deceived you and humiliated you in a personal and vile way, tell me you wouldn’t go right ahead and punch her in the jaw!
  • So Holly, a teenage girl, just shows up uninvited to a single grown man’s apartment, and he has absolutely no problem letting her come in and hang out? Wha…?

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