If there is one thing worse than a bad, derivative movie, it’s a bad derivative movie that came along about 20 years too late.
The Perfect Score is a John Hughes rip-off that takes all the conventions of his movies, particularly The Breakfast Club and proceeds to execute all of them completely wrong. Worse, the ending revises the 80s cliche of being completely preachy and wishy-washy, without any of the characters getting in trouble or paying any penalty for their actions.
Any high school graduate or college hopeful knows the pressures of standardized tests, the SAT in particular. This film deals with several young people who, all for different reasons, need to do well on the test.
Kyle (Chris Evans) is a bright young man with aspirations to go to Cornell University, who can’t quite get a high enough score on the test. His best friend Matty (Bryan Greenberg) wants to go to the University Of Maryland to be near his long distance girlfriend.
Anna (Erika Christensen) is ranked second in the class, but her parents expect her to attend Brown, and her score is also not up to snuff. Desmond (Darius Miles) is a star basketball player who wants to turn pro, but is attempting to go to college first to make his mom happy.
Francesca (Scarlett Johannson) is the punk/rebel type of the bunch who is necessary to the plan because her father owns the building that stores the SAT answer sheet. Finally, Roy (Leonardo Tam) is the obligatory stoner/comic relief.
Each of these characters can be traced back to Hughes characters, particularly in The Breakfast Club. Johannson is the Ally Sheedy character, Christensen is Molly Ringwald, Miles is a more politically correct Emilio Estevez, and Tam is Judd Nelson.
As for Evans and Greenberg, they have the vapid and empty look of male models, and will probably never act again. The other performances are also decidedly mixed.
Johannson doesn’t embarrass herself too much, but Christensen may as well have just been a living prop. As bad as she is, however, Darius Miles is about 10 times worse. Whoever cast this guy should be fired. Leonardo Tam has a few funny moments, but is largely a one-note bore. Matthew Lillard sleepwalks through a few scenes as Kyle’s brother, doing his usual shtick.
The movie as a whole is neither inspired nor necessary. It is not particularly funny, or timely. Its premise may have worked as a 30-minute sitcom, but at feature length it flounders.
However, it’s been a few months since a cookie-cutter teen movie came down the pike, and it was only a matter of time before another one was foisted onto the public.
This movie may have never even seen the light of day, if not for the recent success of Scarlett Johannson. As it is, it was released in January, universally known as the worst movie month.
Director Brian Robbins previously found some success with sports movies like Varsity Blues and Ready to Rumble. He should get back to that and put this instantly forgettable debacle behind him.
Chuck DelRoss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org