Directed by: David M. Rosenthal
Premise: A newly single woman (Sanaa Lathan) meets a charming man (Michael Ealy) but what begins as a sweet romance turns into a nightmare of stalking and violence.
What Works: The Perfect Guy is led by actress Sanaa Lathan in the lead role. Lathan plays a career woman whose biological clock is ticking ever louder and she feels pressure to get married and have children. That leads her to break up with her long term boyfriend and quickly begin an intense romance with a new man who is apparently everything she ever wanted. Lathan does an admirable job with the role. Like a lot of women in danger movies, The Perfect Guy requires her to be vulnerable and Lathan is empathetic as a woman who is being violently harassed but she is also strong enough to credibly fight him off. That’s a tough balance but Lathan manages it. While Lathan’s character and her new boyfriend (Michael Ealy) are in the honeymoon stage of their relationship the movie plays pretty well. This couple has an intense and sexy chemistry, so much so that the film might have been better if Ealy’s character remained the good guy throughout the story.
What Doesn’t: About a third of the way through the picture, The Perfect Guy makes an abrupt shift when Michael Ealy’s character lashes out at a stranger and nearly beats him to death. At that point Ealy’s character goes from a dreamy boyfriend to a psychopathic stalker. The film’s switch in tone is too radical. The violence is never foreshadowed and just prior to this Lathan and Ealy’s characters visit her parents in a sequence that plays like something out of a romantic comedy. As a result of that juxtaposition, the sudden violence comes across as ridiculous. Unlike better films in this genre such as Fatal Attraction or The Gift, there is no nuance or build up to the insanity. Matters are made worse by the casting of Michael Ealy as the stalker. Ealy is a likable actor but he just isn’t a frightening or intimidating presence and he is never convincing as a violent psychopath. Several scenes that are intended to be creepy just come across as silly. The story of The Perfect Guy is a mess. A lot of narrative elements are introduced only to be dropped and many of the twists and turns don’t make any sense. The story is kicked off when Sanaa Lathan’s character breaks up with her long-time boyfriend, played by Morris Chestnut, because of his unwillingness to commit and get started on raising a family. After her fallout with Ealy’s character she immediately gets back with boyfriend number one. But nothing about him or their relationship has changed, so it makes no sense for these people to get back together. Throughout this movie the characters make one stupid decision after another. Lathan’s character keeps a spare key hidden near her front porch but when Ealy’s character starts stalking her she never bothers to change the locks or even move the spare key which of course leads to him using it to slip in and out of her house. In one of his several incursions into her home, Ealy’s character installs video recording equipment which he uses to record her in an intimate moment and uploads the footage to the internet. The police in this movie are almost comically inept. The detective announces he is getting a search warrant for the boyfriend’s home but apparently he forgets about that because it never comes up again and the police are unable to find the camera that is installed in her bedroom. The Perfect Guy gets especially stupid in the ending. The detective gives Lathan’s character advice on how to legally shoot someone in self-defense but she goes way out of legal bounds, breaking into her stalker’s home, ransacking it, and daring him to come after her.
Bottom Line: The Perfect Guy wants to be a sexy thriller but it’s not very exciting and it’s frequently stupid. This movie plays like a direct-to-DVD rip off of something much better.
Episode: #560 (September 20, 2015)