The Perfect Guy
Earl Gibson III/ Debra L Rothenberg/ Jim Spellman/ Getty Images
There is nothing in The Perfect Guy as mind-blowingly ludicrous as a teenager handing his older lover a first edition copy of The Iliad, but oh, how I wish there was. The Perfect Guy is a “romantic” thriller so devoid of romance—or passion, or any emotion, really—that it desperately needs something as balls-out crazy as that Iliad scene from The Boy Next Door. That movie also has decent sex scenes, something else The Perfect Guy lacks. Rated PG-13, Guy has a beautiful cast grinding on one another, but in a movie that also includes some significant violence, you’re not pushing the sexy bits very far. (A PG-13 movie with little to no violence and swearing can get pretty graphic with sex scenes, and a violent movie with no sex can include beheadings and still get PG-13, but if you have a sex scene and a violent scene, you’re not going very far with either.) This movie could also be called Beautiful Dumb People because while everyone is incredibly beautiful, they all have the IQ of grapefruit.
Sanaa Lathan stars as Leah, an Olivia Pope knock-off who, at 36, is ready to settle down. Her boyfriend, Dave (Morris Chestnut, A Very Handsome Man), is also very successful and very good-looking, but he is not ready settle down. Divorce runs in his family, he says, as if it is a terminal disease that will strike him down at any moment. But there is something to this setup. Leah is an identifiable and sympathetic protagonist, a 21st century Everywoman who Wants It All. And Dave is not a bad guy, he clearly loves Leah but he also is clearly not ready to meet all of her emotional needs, and so they break up. In a better movie, their breakup would be genuinely sad, two people parting ways not for lack of love or passion, but simply because their life goals don’t match up. But Guy has no emotional intelligence or subtlety, so instead it plays in the most ham-fisted way possible: Woman of a certain age goes baby crazy, drives off her otherwise nice boyfriend, and then clings like a limpet to the next man who pays attention to her.
Enter Carter (Michael Ealy), a man so surface-perfect he’s obviously a serial killer. Again, in a better movie, Carter’s initial charm offensive would be peppered with the occasional glitch—a slightly too eager come-on, perhaps, or the odd turn of phrase here or there. Nothing that raises actual red flags, but the kind of thing you notice and dismiss because really, it’s harmless. Right? Instead, Carter is a creepy simulacrum of a person, the kind of guy who instantly turns you off because humans instinctively recognize and distrust perfection. If Leah had a brain in her head, she’d be more wary of Carter from the moment they actually talk. But all that’s up there is like, old socks because she is not at all suspicious of a man who has all the exact same interests as her and doesn’t have a personality beyond the things she wants to do.
What is really baffling is that director David Rosenthal previously made A Single Shot, a quietly effective thriller starring Sam Rockwell. That movie has a good sense of location, decent pacing, and a well-managed sense of dread, all of which are lacking in Guy. The script (by Tyger Williams) is not good, but the pace is so choppy it feels like a portion of the movie was cut out, and Peter Simonite’s cinematography is bland and lifeless. The Perfect Guy looks so cheap—I don’t understand how Rosenthal goes from A Single Shot to this. Lathan, Chestnut, and Ealy all deserve better than this limp stalker tale, as all are decent actors and Very Beautiful. The PG-13 rating keeps it from being truly sexy, which is the least a movie like this should do, and the dumber-than-a-sack-of-hair script gives them absolutely nothing to work with. There are episodes of CSI with more dramatic tension than anything in this movie.