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The Perfect Man
by Adam R. Davidson

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To start this baby off, I first have to apologize on behalf of the State of Texas. You see, I am a Texan; I was born here, raised here, and I am filled with Lone Star State-riotism. That all said, two of the three reviews mentioned in today's article come from the two largest and most respected newspapers in the State, the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle. Please understand that these reviews in no way represent the critical faculties and/or general intelligence of your average Texan.

And yes, we do really wear those hats. And no, not with any sense of irony or other fashion motives.


I really enjoyed writing this column. Movies like the one I picked, THE PERFECT MAN, are so obviously bad, they are perfect for culling out obviously incompetant critics. It's like sneaking a hunk of Limberger that's been rotting in the trash for weeks onto a tray at a posh cheese-tasting event; any moron who thinks it tastes great will be quickly struck from the herd. So it is with THE PERFECT MAN, or for that matter, any movie starring Hilary Duff. It should be easy for the average critic, and the review could be written over lunch with time to spare for coffee; Duff + movie=bad, complete review, move on with your life. But it always seems like some wayward soul(s) can't get the hang of New Math.

So, who needs remediation this week? Movies.com's Rod Gustafson, Houston Chronicle's Amy Biancolli, and Dallas Morning News' Nancy Churnin. Let's bring on the schoolin'.

We start with Rod Gustafson's report, in which his scattershot ratings system places the film, in his eyes, somewhere between an "A-" and a "B-." So what else should he go back to school for?
- It's just generally a crappy review. In fact, "review" is a wholly inappropriate term for this, as he does little else but describe events that transpired within the film, not unlike a back-o'-the-box description that lacks any self-awareness.
- Goes out his way to say Duff's "performance stays true to the age she's portraying," citing the 16-year old actress' magnificent versatility in playing *gasp!* a teenage girl. I wonder if he said Hume Cronyn did a great job of playing an old man in COCOON?
- Congratulates director Mark Rosman for bringing to light a side of Heather Locklear the world has never seen before. Just let that settle in for a minute.

The progress report? I give Gustafson a D+, and the plus is only because he made me laugh with his closing thoughts on Duff's character's internet proclivity; "Internet safety is an ongoing problem. Parents sharing this movie with their children may want to take some time to discuss the possible dangers of revealing personal information." And then he gives an FBI link where worried parents can get more info. Listen up parents: if you have concerns about your kids' experience at a Hilary Duff movie, it should be because they actually *wanted* to see it. Everything after that is lagniappe.

Who's next on the roll? Dallas' Nancy Churchin, the Movie Urchin. And her essay is riddled with red ink for these reasons:
- Compares the film to DEAR FRANKIE, a small and legimate arthouse release, because both films involve a character pretending to be someone else in print form. According to this logic, AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER is comparable to KING KONG, due to their both involving the Empire State Building.
- Uses the term "moving" to describe the themes and messages found in the movie. I also am frequently moved when watching Duff movies, though typically it's something I ate moving back up my esophagus.
- Makes a Super Mario Bros. reference, appropros of nothing and without a whit of kitchiness or irony.

The homework for Ms. Churchin? The three Rs: Please re-format, re-think main points of argument, and re-submit.

And just barely missing the tardy bell is Miss Amy Biancolli, of the Houston Chronicle. What's her excuse?
- Opens the review by saying the film had "mostly charming actors . . . a mostly clever script . . . [and mostly fresh] comic devices . . . [and] mostly good." Someone needs to gather Biancolli's bearings on what good film is, and then find her a thesaurus.
- Goes the "damning by faint praise" route that so many others have by elevating the material by claiming its superiority over previous efforts. THE PERFECT MAN may indeed be a better effort than RAISE YOUR VOICE, but the point is, no one with any intelligence or taste would see either of those movies on purpose, and anyone that did see those films on purpose hasn't the cognitive capacity to differentiate their comparative quality levels.
- Like her fellow idiot Texan, she irrationally compares the film to a vaunted work, this time, "Cyrano de Bergerac," when even a comparison to Steve Martin's ROXANNE is gross flattery.

The report card? For such unabashed praise of such a craptacular film, I am afraid Ms. Biancoli will have to repeat the course.

Yep, I love it when the critics make my job easy. Just remember these names next time you see a quote on a movie poster. If you pass a Uwe Boll film on the marquee and find, "Fantastic! Mostly better than HOUSE OF THE DEAD!!, -- Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle," you may want to reconsider your viewing choice. Then again, if you've even started walking into a Uwe Boll movie in the first place, I may not be able to help you.


See you in two.

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Review of the Review
Every other Thursday

Adam R. Davidson holds the critics' feet to the flame in making them accountable for the reviews that they publish.

Other Columns
Other columns by Adam R. Davidson:

Special EW Summer Re-Cap

A Sound of Thunder

XXX: State of the Union



All Columns

Adam R. Davidson
Adam R. Davidson is a struggling writer with a heart of gold and a bank account of hopes and dreams and little else. He probably knows way too much useless crap for one person's lifetime, and wears a size 8 hat.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Adam R. Davidson by clicking here.

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