Scott F. Evans
The Perfect Guy is the perfect title for this film. It’s bland, unoriginal, and insipid. Directed by David M. Rosenthal, with a screenplay by Tyger Williams, this film couldn’t be more predictable and generic.
The film’s problems are specifically with writing and direction. Williams hasn’t written a feature length screenplay since 1993’s Menace II Society, and it shows. None of the dialogue feels authentic or natural. There’s not one moment of this film that feels even remotely clever or original. It’s like Williams just cribbed together scenes from every sex thriller from the 1980’s and 90’s, updated them with modern technology and threw them into this mess of a script.
And then Rosenthal completely neutered it. For frivolous stalker films like this to really work, they need to commit to the lurid nature of the concept. Like 1987’s Fatal Attraction or 1992’s Basic Instinct, The Perfect Guy has nothing to actually say about human nature or behavior patterns. It’s not interested in examining how the lead character’s age and gender causes her to make poor relationship decisions. Nor is it interested in exploring the antagonist’s particular form of mental illness. It doesn’t have to, but the film could at least deliver some cheap, lurid thrills. The Perfect Guy isn’t particularly sexy, violent, or thrilling. It’s so middle-of-the-road safe in content and direction, that it plays like a Lifetime movie with a bigger budget.
To their credit, the cast tries their best with this trite material. Sanaa Lathan plays Leah Vaughn. She’s beautiful and competent. She gives it her all, but the script fails… giving her nothing but stale tropes to play. Michael Ealy plays Carter Duncan. He’s handsome and competent. He hits all of the “crazy but charming” beats you’ve seen in every film with this kind of villain. He tries, but he’s not given much to do beyond play tired clichés. Morris Chestnut plays Vaughn’s boyfriend Dave. He’s handsome and practically a cameo in The Perfect Guy. He shows up in the beginning and disappears for a lot of the run time.
Chestnut isn’t given anything to do besides be an obstacle for Ealy’s character. And if it wasn’t enough to deal with lazy scripting and boring direction, the three leads are honestly too old (intelligent?) for these clueless characters. They’re all in their forties (to be clear, none of them look it). They move and are styled like middle aged adults, but the story is written for characters in their early to mid-thirties. They play like stunted versions of their younger selves, potentially displaying a psychosis of repeating patterns well into an age when they ought to know better. But again, none of this is addressed or even considered in an attempt to make the story interesting or original.
Like No Good Deed (released about the same time last year), The Perfect Guy is yet another watered-down thriller featuring three leads of color. It’s a shame that filmmakers feel the need to sanitize these films so much, because they at least have the potential to offer up some fun, racy thrills. There’s a reason people still talk about Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct decades after their release. For all of their pulpy sleaze, they’re at least memorable. You’ll forget The Perfect Guy on the way to the parking lot.