If you didn’t see last year’s No Good Deed, in which Idris Elba not-so-randomly terrorizes Taraji P. Henson, you missed out – it was a pretty entertaining thriller.
According to gossip, the success of that movie lead to the script for the Perfect Guy getting greenlit. It’s similar in that a woman gets not-so-randomly terrorized, and it’s also an attempt at an entertaining thriller.
Leah is a very successful lobbyist with a great house and a great man that she’s been with for two years. She encounters a random handsome man at a coffee shop but thinks nothing else of it. After attending a dinner party friend’s house, she watches Dave (her man) with the coworker’s son. When they get home, she starts what seems to be a discussion they’ve had before. She’s 36, and wants to start thinking about a family. He states that he’s not ready for marriage and babies, and wants to propose to her when he’s ready to do it, but not because she’s demanding it. She tells him to leave, and he does. The next shot is her in her office 2 months later.
She’s broken up with Dave and is feeling a little lonely and overworked. She was going to meet up with a coworker for drinks after work, but gets bailed on. Just as she’s getting accosted by a drunk dude at the bar, the random handsome guy pops up to save her (not sure how I felt about this scene, it’s key to setting up the story, but I wish she had been capable of defending her own honor at a bar from a drunk dude – but I suppose it sets up the story. Again – the strong, single female seems to not exist in movies).
That leads to her offering to buy the handsome man, Carter, a drink, which turns into a date, then several dates, then steamy sex in the bathroom of an underground reggae club – seriously. She introduces Carter to her friends, and they are quickly taken in by how handsome and charming he is; which leads Leah to ask him to accompany her to her parents’ house for the 4th of July. Well, he proceeds to charm the hell out of her parents too – bringing her mother flowers, and taking her father to a baseball game. He’s even such a gentleman that he sleeps in a different room while in her parents’ and refuses to have sex with her while there.
On the way home, they stop to get gas. A random dude stops to appreciate his fancy car while Carter is inside buying stuff. Leah, not knowing much about the car, recommends that the random dude check with Carter, but before he has the chance to do that – Carter grabs him and starts violently beating him. Leah attempts to get him to stop – but only a gunshot by the convenience store owner gets him to stop. He yells at Leah to get in the car (why she did not leave his ass at this point is beyond me – but again, the plot). He gets in the car and drives them home – gives Leah a half-hearted apology, and she tells him it’s over. From this point on, he gets really creepy and stalkery. He calls and texts her almost constantly – she gets her number changed repeatedly, but he’s an IT guy, and finds several ways around that. He non-stop sends flowers to her job. She goes to the police, a Detective Hansen, who lets her know that there’s not much she can do, because he’s been careful to not threaten her, and hasn’t really caused problems. He also recommends that a restraining order may antagonize him. After he starts showing up at her job, her house, etc. she does get the restraining order, which is delivered to him as he’s interviewing for an IT job – and loses him the job, which really does antagonize him.
Since while they were dating, she accidentally showed him where the hide-a-key was to her house, and introduced him to her neighbor, he definitely gets into her house and sets up cameras everywhere. Meanwhile, she gets a call from Dave, who misses her and wants to start over. She agrees – and tells Dave all about Carter. She and Dave head out to dinner; and Carter of course, shows up at the restaurant. Leah wants to leave, but Dave decides that he’s going to “be a man” and handle it (eyeroll).
He goes right over to Carter and lets Carter antagonize him into threatening him.
Things get worse from there, I won’t say too much else about it – but it gets worse before it gets better. I will spoil this – the cat does not get hurt. I have to say, as soon as it was revealed that she had a cat, I was very concerned that the cat would get hurt – however, the cat ends up fine. I just wanted you to know.
The movie is directed by David M. Rosenthal (Falling UP, Janie Jones, A Single Shot). This is the first movie directed by him that I have seen. The story didn't do much for me, I wish she had turned to defensively capable much faster than she did - but hey, the script is the script, right? The directing is fine, but honestly, the score was distracting. Usually in a movie, you don’t notice the score – which is the sign of a good score, it just builds on the present emotions. In this movie, I noticed it – it felt completely out of place, and felt more like the score for a kids’ movie – like Jingle All the Way, but less Christmas-y. The other odd thing was the time jumps. After Leah breaks up with Dave, we get a “Two Months Later” subtitles. But there are no other time subtitles, so there’s not really a way to tell how long she’s with Carter before splitting with him. And then, how much time passes before she gets back with Dave? I suppose it’s not important, but it was off-putting, because she seemed to be moving really fast with Carter, but who knows – maybe it was over several months? The actors in the movie are certainly wonderful, and they did a pretty good job with the material at hand.
- Sanaa Lathan (who I always refer to as “Blade’s Mom”, because that’s the first place I saw her) plays Leah, and she did a really good job. My issues with her are with the character, so not really her fault. It’s upsetting for me as a single woman to see a woman on screen who has everything together once again being upset because she wants “marriage and babies”. That’s the character, and it leads to the breakup, so I get it – but honestly, it’s disappointing. Again, the strong, single woman almost never exists in movies. Sanaa does a great job of portraying Leah’s descent from really happy to truly terrified to aggressively determined.
- Michael Ealy (who in my opinion is one of the most beautiful men on the face of the earth), is really creepy as Carter – he starts out as literally the ‘perfect’ guy, however, once he takes the dark turn, he goes really dark and creepy. Physically, he does a lot of holding his head down, but looking up – which shifts his physical appearance just a touch – and makes a difference. He also produced this movie, which is a new turn for him.
- Morris Chestnut plays Dave, and Dave is really a great boyfriend, just not interested in marriage and babies at the time that Leah is. Morris Chestnut is another of the most beautiful men on the planet. He doesn’t have to stretch much here, and if you want to see him a little more interesting (but only a little) check out the Best Man Holiday, also, be sure to watch his new show on Fox – Rosewood.
- L. Scott Caldwell and Charles S. Dutton play Leah’s parents. They only have one scene, and I can’t help but wonder if they shot more scenes, but were cut? They are pretty one-note as the parents, but they help with the framework to establish Carter’s near-perfectness early on.
- Tess Harper plays Leah’s nosy neighbor Mrs. McCarthy – she’s not quite sure about Carter from the get go – If only Leah had paid more attention to that!
- Kathryn Morris and Rutina Wesley play Leah’s friends who help first convince her that Carter is awesome, then that she knows to go to the cops.
- Holt McCallany, who is one of those guys you’ve seen in everything, plays Detective Hansen, who does what he can (and a few things he can’t) to help out Leah.
Overall, it’s entertaining. I went to see it with my mom, and asked if she was happy I was single after watching it! Ha! I will say that it was disappointing after the summer of kick-ass ladies that we had. I would have loved Leah's character to become more kick-ass, faster than she did. That's just not the way this story is set up.
Along those lines - let me go off on a tangent here, there was a trailer in front of this for the new movie, Secrets in Their Eyes with Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Nicole Kidman - in the trailer, she and Ejiofor are dectives, Kidman is the D.A. They get a case where Roberts's daughter is found killed, and there's not enough evidence to put the dude away. It then seems that 13 years pass, and Ejiofor finds him again, and he and Kidman have to work to put him away legally before Roberts straight up kills him dead. Interesting enough - a fascinating drama - but what about this? After her daughter's death, Roberts quits the force, and over the next 13 years, Ejiofor keeps seeing these execution-style murders come across his desk - rapists, scumbags, etc. Someone is hunting them. He finds the daughter's killer, and pieces it together that Roberts has been vigilante-style hunting them while searching for her daughter's killer. He and Kidman then work together, but in the end, he lets Roberts go after she finally kills the killer. There you have it - a heavy drama, with an action/vigilante twist. Plus - it would give Julia Roberts something completely different to play. Well, we'll, see - the trailer is below if you want to check it out.
6 out of 10 – Gained points for the cat being okay – seriously, I got pretty stuck on that note. Lost points for the weird score.
Bonus Video 1: Sleeping with the Enemy – in case you forgot about this Julia Roberts thriller from years ago.
Bonus Video 2: The Jennifer Lopez version called Enough.
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews