The Perfect Man (October 30/05)
Right off the bat, The Perfect Man has to overcome a seriously demented premise that stretches the limits of credibility to an absurd degree. The story revolves around a single mother named Jean (Heather Locklear) who takes the ridiculously drastic step of packing up and moving every time she's dumped, much to the consternation of her teenage daughter Holly (Hilary Duff). It's a ludicrous setup for a movie that's clearly been designed to appeal strictly to Duff's rabid fanbase, who'll undoubtedly find plenty here worth embracing.
Screenwriter Gina Wendkos seems to have been inspired by that episode of The Simpsons in which Bart invented an imaginary suitor for Mrs. Krabappel, as much of the film is devoted to Holly's efforts to woo her mother with cards and flowers from a fake secret admirer. Holly does this because she's convinced that Jean has found yet another dud of a beau (Mike O'Malley), and their relationship will undoubtedly trigger a hasty, last-minute relocation. Holly eventually puts a face to the secret admirer in the form of a friend's hunky uncle (played by Chris Noth), which forces her to ensure that the two never actually meet in real life (a ploy that eventually winds up costing thousands of dollars in damage, as Holly sets off a fire alarm in a crowded restaurant).
The Perfect Man is one of those movies that's seemingly impervious to negative reviews, as it delivers exactly what it promises. With an emphasis on wacky misunderstandings and situations, the film has all the complexity of a sitcom (a thoroughly mediocre sitcom at that). Duff delivers a performance that's remarkably similar to her Lizzie McGuire persona, while Locklear has seemingly botoxed her face to oblivion (her upper lip remains immobile throughout The Perfect Man's running time). Director Mark Rosman imbues the movie with an bland, non-threatening sense of style that admittedly suits the material, and the end result is an instantly-forgettable piece of work that's unlikely to mean much to the majority of viewers.