Making the Grades
Moving is second nature to Holly Hamilton (Hilary Duff). She's packed and unpacked many times in her scant seventeen years of life... and she's about to do it again when her single mom's relationship with an imperfect man falls apart.
In fact, every time her mother, Jean (Heather Locklear), has another personal "meltdown," the family takes to the road. Leaving Wichita for Brooklyn, with little sister Zoe (Aria Wallace) in tow, Holly wants to do anything she can to bring some happiness and stability to her parent's life. She's also tired of having her mother's love life rule her own destiny.
As a skilled cake decorator, her mom immediately lands a job at an upscale bakery, which allows her to bring home the dough... and the male. Lenny (Mike O'Malley) is chief of the bread and womanizing departments at the shop. Stuck in the eighties, he swoons over Jean and wastes no time before asking her out. However, Holly is convinced Lenny is yet another in a series of fallen loaves--especially when he pulls up in his stock 1980s era Trans Am to take Jean to a Styx concert.
With help from Ben (Chris Noth), a suave sophisticated restaurateur--and the uncle of her friend Amy (Vanessa Lengies), the determined daughter constructs the "perfect man." Being an Internet junkie (she details her life's tragedies on a public blog), Holly puts together a composite virtual being based on Ben. With flowers arriving at the door and love notes in her mother's email, life couldn't be happier at the Hamilton flat--at least for the short term.
Working with Mark Rosman, the same director who shot A Cinderella Story with Duff, obviously brings out the best in the young actress. Her performance stays true to the age she's portraying. Heather Locklear shines as well, and offers a side of the actress not seen in the past. Their skills on screen help to solidify the film's messages about accepting both the good and bad in life, and making the best of your situation.
Parents will want to discuss some of Holly's Internet habits, however. The idea of building an ongoing weblog about your family's personal life and relocation plans could have significant, negative ramifications. The ability to impersonate other people online is another tactic used by the precocious teen. Finally, she resorts to using some highly questionable methods to keep her plan in motion--including activating the fire sprinklers in a restaurant. Consequences for the wet diversion were never addressed in the film.
Aside from these concerns, other possible objectionable content is limited. A highly stereotyped gay man plays a comedic waiter in Ben's establishment. Both he, and others, provide mild sexual comments throughout the script, and of course, there is a man in Holly's life as well. Fortunately, the teen romance is portrayed positively, with only a kiss included.
The final product is a light hearted, yet thoughtful, tribute to single mothers, and an interesting look at the concerns and stress their children may be asked to endure. In the end, Holly appears to have learned lying can't make things better. As for that man... well... lets just say things turn out perfectly.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Perfect Man.
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. The FBI has some excellent suggestions on this topic.
Could you work at a bakery and afford to live in a three-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn? Perhaps, but it might be difficult. Enter “rent apartment Brooklyn” in a search engine like Google, and see how much it costs. You may also have noticed how easily young Holly works her way through New York City traffic and immediately finds their new home. Isn’t life easy in the movies?