Monday, June 6, 2011

A Decade of Dreck #54: The Perfect Man

Charge Shot!!! is celebrating the end of the decade in the most masochistic way we know how - by watching and writing about the 100 worst movies of the last ten years as defined by film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Click here to see RT's complete list, click here for more about the Decade of Dreck project, and click here to see all of the movies we've done so far.

The Decade of Dreck project takes me to a lot of filmic places I wouldn't normally venture: Yu-Gi-Oh movies, Paris Hilton vehicles, too-many-kids films, Doogal. This week, I go upriver into the heart of darkness that is heartwarming mother/daughter movies. Since I am neither a mother, nor am I a daughter, this one is, once again, outside my area of expertise. There's another one coming up soon, so...ugh.

Remember Hilary Duff? Lizzie McGuire herself? Last time we heard from her here she was one of Christian fundamentalist maniac Steve Martin's dozen children, and apparently 2005 was really a banner year for her because she starred in back-to-back Rotten Tomatoes worst movies of the Aughts!

The Perfect Man (not to be confused with the fourteenth century Sufi philosophical text or the joke from The Venture Bros.) stars Hilary McDuff as Holly, a teenage girl who is sick of her mother (Heather Locklear) moving her and her kid sister to a new town every couple months due to her breaking up with her boyfriends (more on this later). In order to build up her mom's confidence and prevent her from shacking up with the first heartbreak-inducing guy she finds (Mike O'Malley!), Holly invents the titular paragon of masculinity and begins romancing her own mother under via an anonymous secret admirer. But can she keep the charade up? Is Heather Locklear a terrible parent? Do we care?

To say that Perfect Man is the sum total of everything terrible about heartstring-tugging family films as well as romcoms is somewhere right between understatement and you-hit-the-nail-on-the-head, boy-wonder. There are worse movies out there; I'll take this over a Friedberg-Seltzer Movie any day though if I ask you what your favorite movie is and you answer "The Perfect Man", I'll still punch you in the throat.

Beyond what Hannah Arendt referred to as "the banality of evil", Perfect Man's greatest crime is the terrible, terrible characterization of Heather Locklear, the single mom in search of the eponymous man. Locklear's character, Jean is just a horrible human being who honestly deserves to have her children taken away from her. I can understand Jean's tough situation, she's a single mother who has to raise two daughters (who are very independent, no surprise) on her own. That sucks (it should be said that we're never actually told where Dad is).

But literally every time Jean breaks up with a boyfriend, she has a breakdown and has to move to an entirely different city (for some reason, her career as a baker provides her with amazingly flexible job security that lets her burn all her bridges and start working in a city on the other side of the country at the drop of a hat, go figure). That's the worst thing ever. Jean needs to learn to either a) Not date so many losers and/or not date at all or b) Act like a goddamn adult and deal with a breakup without fleeing the state.

I couldn't even focus on the film itself because of my impotent rage at Heather Locklear and her seventh-grade approach to love, romantic and maternal. I guess maybe she learns something about not uprooting her daughters' lives, leaving them stunted in so many ways, for the sake of her own minor romantic failings.

I really pity ultimate love interest Chris Noth, he's saddled with this emotional wreck of a borderline sociopathic woman. He's presented as, indeed, the perfect man: handsome, successful, sensitive, what-have-you. But what I really hope is that he has an incredible sense of patience for dealing with Locklear's hysterics. I hate to sound like a misogynist, but Locklear needs a firm, guiding hand, and someone with the patience of a saint to keep her from burning down her house and fleeing to Calgary. Honestly, the woman is this close to murdering her children, I swear to God.

It's not my fault this is such a terrible movie. I respect women, I swear! Equal pay! Maternity leave! No more use of the "C word"!

One more thing: Carson Kressley, the most well-known of the Queer Eye For The Straight Guy guys, has a small part in this. Would you believe he plays an effete homosexual who helps straight people solve their romantic problems? As far as I can tell, he ends to the movie in an orgy with a quartet of bi-curious New York Jets fans.

The Perfect Man is probably the furthest thing from it's title; not even "imperfect", it is flat out appalling. Sorry for the local film critic joke, but it just makes sense for this one: it makes you feel dumber than you are and with worse taste.

The Perfect Man is ranked #60 on the Rotten Tomatoes Worst 100 list with 5% freshness. Its RT page can be found here.