Review: The Perfect Date (2019)

The Perfect Date…would include anything but watching this nonsense.

I did not care for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018).

If you listen closely you can hear an army of fans grabbing their torches and pitchforks.

I realize that’s an opinion that isolates me considering how popular that movie was last summer, but I honestly though it was kind of overrated. I thought it could have had higher stakes, been more charming, and been a lot more romantic and or comedic. So when I heard that Netflix’s recent offering from the world of rom-coms, The Perfect Date (2019), had a near identical premise, I was apprehensive to say the least. As it turns out, The Perfect Date is as equally low-stakes, devoid of charm, unromantic and unfunny as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. You know what? I’ve just come to the realization that I liked To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before more than whatever the hell this was. Yikes.

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 7.58.29 PM
Credit: imdb.com / Netflix

Based on the novel “The Stand-In” by Steve Bloom, The Perfect Date follows Brooks Rattigan, an ambitious amateur app-developer. In need of the finances to attend Yale, his dream school, Brooks creates a service that allows girls to choose a persona for him to adapt, therefore becoming their perfect date. Among others, Brooks pretends to be a cowboy, an art enthusiast, and the son of wealthy parents. As he shifts from one persona to another, Brooks realizes that the one guy he’s never been is himself.

I hated this movie. I had zero fun watching this movie. Well, I suppose that’s technically not true. I ended up laughing A LOT at how atrociously awful this movie was. Truly, my distaste for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before aside, this was a poorly-constructed movie. Not surprising considering that one of the production companies was literally called “Awesomeness Films.” You guys, the movie hadn’t even started and I was already rolling my eyes. From there, it only took until the 10 minute mark to officially declare my loathing for this movie. In that time we get a shit ton of exposition that tells us everything about Brooks’ current life and backstory. Then, just when you think there couldn’t be any more exposition, new characters enter the scene and exposit all over the place. One of the biggest problems with The Perfect Date (and that’s saying a lot), is that it tells the audience everything rather than showing it. Which, as you know, is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to movies. Characters constantly tell us exactly what they’re doing, how they’re feeling, and when introducing one another, sound like they’re reading each other’s Instagram bios rather than having an actual conversation. I know teen rom-coms aren’t known for being fantastically-written, but it feels like the writers of The Perfect Date didn’t even try. Shocking considering one of the screenwriters is the novel’s author. Ouch.

Brooks spends much of the movie talking about the fractured relationship with his father (a tragically bland waste of the hilarious Matt Walsh), how he can’t afford school, and his dreams to change the world. Decidedly more interesting than the stale and clichéd rom-com tropes we got, I think I would have really liked this movie if those elements were utilized in an edgy drama about the lengths Brooks will go to for his dreams to come true. Could you imagine if this movie were about an ambitious but desperate student who turns to a life of escorting to afford the high cost of University? And his seedy lifestyle could put an even greater wedge between him and his father, thus making us care about that otherwise neglected storyline! That would have been great! I mean, the premise of the app is already literally him being an escort, and the movie makes its fair share of hooker jokes to support it. Multiple times I thought to myself, “this could have been so much better if they just changed this detail or re-wrote that character,” forcing me to ask myself, “were they trying to purposely make a terrible movie?” Wow, it actually pains me to know how good this movie could have been if it were simply a different genre.

Now, don’t think I have anything against rom-coms just because I think The Perfect Date would have made for a better drama. I adore rom-coms of every shape and size, and in my opinion, the silly campy ones are often the most enjoyable. However, there’s a big difference between a movie that is intentionally campy, and one that is just downright horrible. Also, even though a lot of those rom-coms utilize similar formulas and tropes, what sets them apart and makes them so lovable is the amount of charm, heart, and endearing characters they have. The Perfect Date has none of that.

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 7.56.27 PM
Credit: vox.com / Netflix

Continuing his reign as the King of Netflix Teen Romances is Noah Centineo in the lead role. I swear, the 22-year-old Centineo is going to play a high school love interest for the next five years, a college love interest for three years after that, and then an office intern love interest well into his forties. Because that’s how Hollywood works. Centineo seems like such a cool, funny guy, that I feel like his natural charisma and sense of humour are being wasted in these watered down Netflix movies. I’d love to see him in something with a little more bite, like 21 Jump Street (2012) or Neighbors (2014). Somehow he always ends up coming off extremely bland for me, giving performances that seem more suited for high school theatre productions than feature films. Then again, it could just be these confused and unoriginal characters he keeps playing. Here’s hoping Charlie’s Angels (2019) finally gives him the chance to spread his wings.

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 7.53.15 PM
Credit: ew.com / Netflix

Speaking of confused and unoriginal characters, my God was Laura Marano’s Celia Lieberman just the worst. I really can’t stand characters who are rude, condescending, pretentious, and pissed off at the world for no justifiable reason and that’s exactly the type of character Celia is. Believing herself to be edgy because she’d rather wear boots than heels and hang out at a bookstore than a school formal, I kept expecting there to be more to the wealthy yet obviously pained Celia. Some type of revelation where she’d reveal the hardships she’s endured that have forced her to keep her walls up.

That never fucking happened.

Turns out she keeps her walls up because she’s afraid people will think she’s boring. Okay, that’d be a fair reason if the movie ONCE showed or even told us what any of Celia’s hobbies, interests or goals are. Again, that never happens. Instead she’s a collection of stereotypical rebellious personality traits that do nothing to endear us to her character, or make her interesting in any way. Listen up rom-com writers: we like our antagonists to have depth, personality, and character, NOT just be antiquated archetypes. Seriously, Celia’s character was essentially the live-action embodiment of the “Wizard Angst” Potter Puppet Pals video.

This movie made me want to smash my head through a wall. Full of nonsensical dialogue, annoying characters, and plot points that will literally have you yelling at the screen, “who the fuck cares?!” I’m struggling to find any redeeming qualities about The Perfect Date. This fucking movie was counter-productive to the entire genre of romantic comedies. Yep, I said what I said. Please, unless you’re going to laugh at it with your friends, don’t even bother with this 90 minute mess that doesn’t even reach the intersection of “so bad it’s good.” The only way to have fun during this movie is if you turn it into a drinking game where you drink every time someone says “Brooks Rattigan” or “Celia Lieberman.” Trust me. It was unbearably frequent.

Have you seen The Perfect Date? What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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