The Perfect Guy
2015, PG-13, 100 min. Directed by David M. Rosenthal. Starring Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy, Morris Chestnut, Charles S. Dutton, Tess Harper, Holt McCallany, Rutina Wesley.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., Sept. 18, 2015
I can’t say with absolute authority that The Perfect Guy is the most unimaginative stalker-boyfriend movie in recent years (I’ve got a lot of Lifetime movies taking up space on my DVR), but man, it sure feels that way. There’s a long cinematic history of crafting a narrative around psychopaths and the people they obsess over. (You can insert your favorite ones here. Mine? The Hitcher, Fear, and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.) As a tried-and-true formula, it can get a lot of mileage depending on how crazy or high-concept you get with the setup. And that is, alas, where The Perfect Guy fumbles. It never tries to be anything more than the sum of its parts, it never rises above its mediocre material to transcend those genre trappings. It commits a cardinal sin: You are constantly three steps ahead of anything resembling suspense, rendering the whole ordeal a boring checklist of tired tropes.
But let’s just dive in, shall we? Leah (Lathan) is a very successful lobbyist in Los Angeles, an executive with a beautiful home and a two-year relationship with Dave (Chestnut). But Dave blanches at the thought of settling down and raising a family, so Leah dumps him in the first act and randomly meets Carter (Ealy), a sexy IT security expert with bedroom eyes and smooth moves. Could he be the perfect guy? Well after an incident where he beats a man within an inch of his life for just talking to Leah, she thinks, maybe no. Will Carter retaliate by sneaking into her home to install cameras, creepily assault her toothbrush (don’t ask), and send a sex tape to her co-workers? Will Leah get back with Dave, subsequently instigating a showdown at a high-end L.A. restaurant, where Carter shows up to spoil the fun? Yes and yes, and more yeses to everything you think is going to happen.
Director David M. Rosenthal, working from a script by Tyger Williams (Menace II Society), conducts the proceedings with a high-gloss sheen, and the actors do their best to liven up the material, but the end result is hackneyed and dull. The best thing you can say about The Perfect Guy is that it plays out like a gelded version of Fatal Attraction, lacking anything dark or dangerous. It plays it too safe, and who wants a guy like that?