to really like teen movies. A few years after I graduated
high school, teen flicks enjoyed a brief renaissance. American
Pie, Can't Hardly Wait, and 10 Things I Hate About
You all came out at a time when I was coming to terms
with my high school experience and trying to move on. I wouldn't
say they profoundly impacted my post high school career, but
they certainly helped put things into perspective, and I enjoyed
if it's just me getting older, and developing a more critical
mind, or what
but teen comedies ain't what they used
to be. Remember the good old days of Pretty In Pink, The
Breakfast Club, Say Anything - hell, even Better Off
Dead if you were into the zanier side? They were great
movies all, with good characters and witty rich writing.
course I'm probably waxing nostalgic over something that really
has no bearing. True, The Perfect Score is a teen flick,
but unlike the aforementioned gems, it's not a movie about
teen relationships. It's a heist movie. It's The Breakfast
Club Commits a Felony. But is it too much to ask that
my teen movie come with a little cleverness, credibility,
and maybe a dash - just a dash mind you - of morality?
like such a dork saying that, but cripes
of sex and poop that it was, even American Pie had
a sense of right and wrong. Nice guys got the girls, and the
jerk drank semen-spiked beer. Come-uppance was delivered and
all was right with the world.
Perfect Score has NONE of this
but I'm getting ahead
how it goes: best friends Kyle and Matty, (Chris Evans and
Bryan Greenberg, respectively) do horribly on their SATs and
decide to break in to the Princeton testing center and steal
the answers to the SAT re-test. Along the way they bring in
Scarlet Johanssen's Francesca, whose daddy owns the building,
Erica Christianson's Anna, the over-achiever who froze under
pressure and blew the test, obligatory stoner Roy (Leonardo
Nam), and Desmond the school basketball star (real NBA player
Darius Miles -- keep the day job) whose face seems to be carved
from wood for all the expression it has.
them have their own reasons for wanting to do well on the
SAT, and to the movie's credit, none of them are particularly
needs a high enough score to attend the college his girlfriend
is at, Kyle desperately wants to attend Cornell for architect
school, and Anna is feeling the family pressure to get into
Brown. It's easy enough to put yourself into these kids' heads
as they wrestle with the decision to steal the answers, but
it veers into uncomfortable territory when they try to justify
their actions to themselves.
tests aren't fair," crows Kyle, "They don't measure
your worth." Lame reason after lame reason is put forth,
and eventually they all convince themselves that if they can
get away with it, it wouldn't be wrong.
it's a function of a heist movie that the main players know
what they're doing is wrong, but they do it anyway because
the rewards outweigh the risks
which is great when the
heroes are taking a casino for millions of dollars, as in
Ocean's 11. It doesn't
hold water, though, when stealing test answers, because the
stakes just aren't high enough. How can we sympathize with
these affluent upper-middle class kids who are cheating to
get into the best college when their parents can afford to
send them to any college they can get into?
slight spoiler ahead
achieve their goal, surprised? But they decide not to use
their crib sheets, because they decide they don't need them
after all. But they make that decision not because cheating
is wrong, but because they've grown as people and can stand
on their own. Of course the fact that they've seen most of
the test in advance anyway, and have a heads up in knowing
what's on there, doesn't qualify as cheating. Noooo. It also
doesn't stop Stoner Roy from passing out answers in the boys'
bathroom. These kids made the right decision for the wrong
reason, and it leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
think it probably wasn't the best move to have Roy narrate
the thing. There was some comic value to it, but it was overshadowed
by the difficulty I had deciphering his strange stoner dialect.
And though all of the leads are attractive personable people,
with the exception of Scarlett Johanssen none of them seem
to have any depth beyond what the shallow script provides.
bore you with the details of the actual plot to steal the
answers. It's stupid and completely implausible, and I'm rather
offended that it worked as well as it did. Note to writers:
Just because your conspirators are in high school, that doesn't
mean your caper can be Dick and Jane. If your heroes are going
to half-ass it, then you have no business letting them get
away with it. Okay. I said it. I'm done.
for a few vaguely humorous moments, and Scarlett Johanssen,
oh and for some reason I found Bryan Greenberg ridiculously
but I wouldn't actually recommend spending money
the verbal/250 on the math