A delayed MTV Films production that hit theaters quickly last Winter, "The Perfect Score" should have been an easy home run - a teenage heist film that has a series of slackers coming up with a plan to bust into an office building where the SAT tests are held and sneak out with a copy - but instead, it's merely barely a double.
Kyle (Chris Evans), is the lead character, who needs to get an improved SAT score to get into the school of his choice. Matty (Bryan Greenberg) needs a better score to try and get into the same school as his girlfriend. Anna (Erika Christensen) is one of the smartest students in the school, but she freezes up on tests and needs to do much better to get into the kind of school her class rank would indicate lies ahead of her. Desmond (Darius Miles) is a star basketball player who needs to take the SATs to get into school. Roy (Leonardo Nam) is a stoner tagging along, while Francesca (Scarlett Johansson) is an outcast who is convinced to come along - her father owns the building, allowing the entire group easier access.
Appearing rather low-budget, the film doesn't even make the heist scenes as exciting as those in the children's film, "Catch That Kid", where a trio of youngsters broke $250,000 out of a bank. The scenes here merely look like the kids are walking around an ordinary office somewhere. The film's humor rarely hits the mark, although there's one scene in the early going where one of the characters has the answers right there and then proceeds to do something really stupid with them.
Scarlett Johansson has previously noted that she's not going to be in teen films like this in interviews, but she's here, and she's the best thing about the picture. Sharp, sassy and cute looking sort of punky, she's the most developed character in a film of characters that are largely cardboard. Erika Christensen is also enjoyable, but it's too bad that the actress can't seem to break into different, more varied parts.
The film has some moments - despite the fact that it's completely played out at this point, a "Matrix" parody featuring Johansson, despite not having much purpose, suggests the actress would be a pretty good choice if there was ever a "Matrix" prequel. The ending, however, is an absurd conclusion, as the characters somehow manage to all have an unrealistic happy ending.
Overall, "Perfect Score" is soda without the fizz; the idea is there, but the comedy is shaky and the characters are not terribly involving or developed. While there are some moments, the film just never gets going the way it should.
VIDEO: "Perfect Score" is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film's image quality is merely fine, although maybe the concerns were a part of the film's original image quality. The film's sharpness and detail seemed slightly off; while scenes could appear fairly well-defined, most shots - especially some of the interiors in the buildings - looked on the soft side.
Aside from the noticable softness, there weren't too many other concerns. Slight compression artifacts appeared during a couple of scenes, as did some light edge enhancement. Colors generally appeared well-saturated, but there were times when they appeared slightly smeary.
SOUND: "Perfect Score" is presented by Paramount in Dolby Digital 5.1. There's really not much in the way of surround activity throughout the film. The rather basic sound mix emphasizes the pop/rock score in the front speakers and adds some brief, mild ambience. Dialogue remains clear and clean.
EXTRAS: Director Brian Robbins and screenwriter Mike Schwahn offer an audio commentary for the film. We also get a 21-minute featurette, the film's trailer and promos.
Final Thoughts: "Perfect Score" disappointed me; while it has moments, the film takes a fine idea and doesn't develop characters or add much energy. Paramount's DVD edition offers satisfactory audio/video quality and supplements. Maybe a rental for those interested.
The Film **