Hilary Duff's "Raise Your Voice" was something of a disaster, with the actress straining in her first attempt to do drama. While I thought "Raise Your Voice" was pretty weak, "The Perfect Man" is the kind of movie that ends careers. The first unintentional laugh comes petty darn quickly, as Duff's character says, in voiceover, with all the seriousness she can pull together, "hey, all you bloggers out there!"
The movie stars the Duff as Holly Hamilton, whose mother (Heather Locklear) moves every time that she gets out of a bad relationship. Let me say this again, because it needs to be repeated: she moves every time she gets out of a bad relationship. She uproots her daughter, who seems incredibly angered by the move, and heads not to the next town over, but to another state. Of course, the movie gives absolutely no explanation for this.
This time around, she moves to NYC with Holly and her other daughter, Zoe (Aria Wallace) in her search for a new man. She works in a bakery, and yet is able to afford an apartment in NYC that's bigger than a closet. She also has an assortment of cliched co-workers, one of which comments on how Holly looks grown-up by saying (and I had to rewind this part just because I didn't actually believe it was said), "You got your little speedbumps and everything." She also catches the eye of a goofy baker, Lenny (Mike O'Malley of TV's incredibly bad and yet, oddly watchable "Yes, Dear"), who invites her to a Styx tribute concert (with actual Styx singer Dennis DeYoung performing.) When he arrives to pick her up, he asks Locklear's character if she got her outfit at - and I'm not kidding - "whosahottie.com".
Holly is upset that her mom is dating what she considers a loser, although I'm guessing that she's more upset about being dragged all over the country and away from her friends in her mom's quest to find a guy...who goes to Styx tribute concerts. Nothing against Styx or anything. So, Holly, ripping off that episode where Bart tries to make-up a potential mate for teacher Mrs. Krabappel, creates a fictional mate for her mother in order to try and take her attention away from Lenny. When she needs a cover-up, she pulls in her friend's uncle (Chris Noth). Not long after, the friend just completely vanishes without explanation.
So, we have a daughter who badly portrays someone knowledgable about the internet (largely just to give Duff's character a reason to narrate what seems like half the movie) and lies to her mother, a psychotic mother who has issues, a co-worker who is supposed to be nice to Holly's mother, but often acts bizarre; a younger sister who serves no purpose whatsoever, the stereotypical gay bartender (Carson Kressley).
The performances, although not close to "good", do actually give some effort towards the wonderfully terrible material, but the characters - especially Duff's, who does some surprisingly awful things, despite the fact that yes, her mom is ridiculous - are not sympathetic in the least. Poorly directed by Mark Rosman (episodes of Duff's "Lizzie McGuire") and even more poorly written by Gina Wendkos (falling from the wonderfully goofy "Coyote Ugly"), "Perfect Man" could not possibly have been saved by performances alone.
VIDEO: "Perfect Man" is presented by Universal in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Transfer quality is perfectly fine, as the picture looked adequately sharp and and well-defined throughout, with only a couple of soft moments, which appeared intentional. The main issue with the presentation is edge enhancement, which is visible - and a bit distracting - in several scenes. No pixelation, print flaws or other concerns were spotted, though. Colors generally looked natural and nicely saturated. Flesh tones lookeda tiny bit red on occasional, but otherwise accurate.
SOUND: "Perfect Man" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's audio is almost entirely front-heavy, with only a couple of very minor instances of surround use. The front speakers deliver dialogue and the film's generic pop score well enough.
EXTRAS: The supplements start off with a gag reel, which is actually rather funny at times. The deleted scenes section offers 18 minutes of deleted footage, including an alternate opening where Holly talks about all the places that they've been. While the movie mentions this briefly, this scene makes it sound as if they've lived in every state.
"Mom and Me" is a featurette that discusses how Duff and Locklear worked together and their chemistry as mother and daughter. "Getting the Perfect Look" goes into detail about getting the look of the characters together. "Clever Clapper" is a whole piece about the use of the clapboard in the movie. "Ready, Set, Shoot, Soak" is a short piece about an interior sprinkler scene. "The Sweet Arts" talks about making the cakes in the movie.
"On-Set with Hilary" is an on-set featurette that follows Duff around as she talks about how WONDERFUL everyone was to work with. There's also the "Hangin' With Hilary", "Hangin' With Heather" and "Chattin' With Chris" featurettes, and finally, a preview for "Pride and Prejudice". Ok, there's also commentary from producer Adam Segal and director Mark Rosman.
Final Thoughts: "The Perfect Man" delivers a lot of unintentional laughter, along with cliches, stereotypical characters and some odd plot points. Universal's DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality, along with a surprising amount of extras. Duff's fans will still likely want to check this one out, but others should skip it.
The Film D