(Originally published 2005)
This week's life lesson from Hollywood is a boon for unhappy teen-age girls seeking companionship for their single mothers. If you're looking for that perfect man for mom, the best way to find him isn't through friends, the personals or a computer dating service. It’s through lies and deception.
At least that's according to "The Perfect Man," a screwy romantic comedy from Mark Rosman that's on the fast track to your local video store.
The film stars Hilary Duff as Holly, a sweet-faced tween with a bum life whose free-living mother Jean (Heather Locklear) is a pastry chef with no center, no filling, no crème de la crème.
No matter how many men she dates--and there have been plenty--she can't seem to find the right guy.
To be kind to Jean, let's refer to her as a serial dater. To round out her personality, let's peg her as a frequent traveler.
For instance, when her relationships spoil, as they tend to do, Jean doesn't stick around to see if anyone else in her neighborhood might enjoy a cupcake and conversation. Instead, she announces to her daughters Holly and Zoe (Aria Wallace) that they're leaving home for another "adventure.” In Jean-speak, that means packing their bags for another state with a fresh crop of men.
Insensitive? You could say that--neither Holly nor Zoe know what it means to push down roots, which is why Holly turns to her Web site, GirlOnTheMove.com, to blog her despair. Still, Jean isn’t depicted here as a monster. Instead, she's viewed as flighty and immature, with her great fear being that when her daughters are grown, she’ll be alone. Hustling to make sure that doesn’t happen, her latest whim is to leave Wichita for Brooklyn, where she hopes to find a nice guy.
Holly is determined that she’ll do better than that. In fact, while her mother strikes up a benign relationship with the first man who approaches her--her co-worker, Lenny (Mike O’Malley)--Holly decides to get her mother interested in her friend's fetching Uncle Ben (Chris Noth), who owns a swank bistro and knows his way around an orchid.
It's how she does so that's the problem. Posing as Ben, Holly writes love letters to her mother, telling her things about romance and relationships that only the perfect man could know. At one point, she includes Ben’s photograph, which causes Jean to swoon. At another point, she sends Jean flowers, all allegedly in the name of love. Throughout, Holly is courted by her classmate Lance (Carson Kressley), whose affection for her grows as her web of lies deepen.
Excuse me, but who are these people?
None of this is played out as seriously as it would be in real life because the movie can’t handle real life or real emotions. If they intervened, Jean would be on a thorazine drip and Holly would be talking to somebody with a holster about the ramifications of identity theft. That would be the interesting movie this film doesn't have the guts to be.