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Perfect Guy, The

Sony Pictures // PG-13 // December 29, 2015
List Price: $30.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Tyler Foster | posted January 6, 2016 | E-mail the Author
Leah Vaughn (Sanaa Lathan) has just broken up with her long-term boyfriend, Dave (Morris Chestnut), who won't stop dragging his feet about getting married and starting a family. Shortly thereafter, she bumps into Carter (Michael Ealy), a warm, handsome man who interrupts a drunk man hitting on her in a bar. Exhilarated by the idea of just jumping into something new, Leah and Carter jump into a relationship immediately. She takes him to meet her parents, and he wins them over almost instantly. Then, just when she's getting comfortable, Carter mercilessly beats a man outside a gas station while she watches in horror, and when she pushes Carter away as a result, his handsome facade slowly fades, revealing a more sinister and disturbed person underneath.

The Perfect Guy is the ultimate example of a "paint-by-numbers" movie, promising a formula, delivering on it as quickly as possible, with no apparent interest in bringing anything new to the table. Character details are introduced and forgotten, twists are executed with the flair and enthusiasm of someone doing taxes, and quite a few leaps of logic are required to hold the whole thing together. It also veers firmly into "unintentionally funny" territory more than once.

For the first thirty minutes, The Perfect Guy just spins its wheels as it sets everything up -- first, by explaining Leah's problem with Dave, and then by getting rid of him for a bit so that Carter can swoop in and charm her off her feet. In the movie's defense, there is a small amount of sexual chemistry when Leah and Carter go to a hip club, but then it's back to stereotypical perfection as they swing by to Mom (L. Scott Caldwell) and Dad (Charles S. Dutton). Then, almost as if the filmmakers feel they have a schedule to meet, literally minutes after Carter says "I love you," he thrashes some guy who just wants to take a photo of his muscle car because Carter thinks he's looking at Leah. It's hard to describe, but there's something alien about the way the characters' reactions don't match up to the brutality of the beating, how nobody calls the cops, how Leah reacts negatively without finding Carter's violence terrifying.

From there, The Perfect Guy fully commits to Carter's insanity, which is certainly something. The movie doesn't waste time on nuance, reducing him in minutes to the kind of guy who would load Leah's house up with video cameras to spy on her at all times, who would steal her cat, even murder her neighbor (in another unintentionally funny moment, he pushes the neighbor down a basement staircase, and it feels like the filmmakers have a cartoonish idea of how brittle old people's bones are). Meanwhile, the filmmakers start to lose their grasp (or more likely, interest) on what was supposedly making anyone tick. Leah's desire for kids and a family is never brought up again, even as Dave re-enters the picture, and despite the fact that Carter is tormenting Leah, it doesn't quite make sense that she tolerates Dave grabbing Carter's throat in a restaurant when Carter's assault is clearly unacceptable.

At least The Perfect Guy has Lathan, who takes a poorly-sketched character and gives her some determination. She is teamed up with the helpless but not unsympathetic Detective Hansen (Holt McCallany), whose jurisdictional powers fail because Carter is not just the perfect guy, but the perfect criminal, staging all kinds of violent and disastrous mayhem without leaving behind a single clue. As it becomes clear to Leah that she's the only one who can solve her problem, the movie dips its toe into full-on vigilante justice. Were the movie to commit to this as fully as it commits to Carter's insanity, the movie might have been able to build to a conclusion cathartic enough to give the movie some B-thriller cred, but again, it stumbles, willing to let Leah arm herself but still hesitating when it comes to pulling the trigger just so the movie can have another suspenseful action beat.

The Blu-ray
Much like the movie, The Perfect Guy's artwork doesn't waste time with nuance. A photo of the movie's three leads, plus the simple tagline "Trust One. Fear the Other." is all she wrote. The single-disc release comes in an eco-friendly Vortex Blu-ray case, with an insert offering up the UltraViolet Digital HD copy of the film and a promo offer for discounted Sony Blu-rays / DVDs / Digital HD on the back, and the entire thing slides into a glossy slipcover with identical artwork.

The Video and Audio
The Perfect Guy's 2.39:1 1080p AVC presentation is theoretically what the movie is meant to look like, but that appearance is distinctly underwhelming. The overwhelming majority of the film takes place in near-darkness, and the transfer lacks richness, resulting in a mostly gray, flat image with no real dimension or depth to it. Fine detail is technically there, but there's no pop to it whatsoever. The colors also appear to be slightly desaturated -- hard to tell if this is just a cumulative side effect of the movie's bland look or something intentional. Brighter daytime scenes look more adequate but still come off digitally sterile.

Sound is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that fares a little better than the picture but still has that underwhelming flatness to it. The movie's hilariously stereotypical "thriller" score gets to use the mix the most, bursting in whenever Carter does something sinister or evil, but most of the squabbles are small and contained, so even the surround channels rarely get a workout (a car wreck is the one brief exception). A French DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, Spanish and English Audio Description DD 5.1, English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, and English, French, and Spanish subtitles are also included.

The Extras
Only one extra is included. "Lust and Obsession: Making The Perfect Guy" (10:18) is a standard EPK, with the usual summary of characters and the story, with a peek inside the various aspects of the movie.

Last year's No Good Deed took a standard thriller plot and executed it decently, adding some twists and turns that helped elevate the standard beats. The Perfect Guy has no such ambitions, fully willing to let its sloppy twists and turns stand, because the filmmakers seem to assume nobody will care much either way. Skip it.

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