Paramount // 2004 // 92 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 27th, 2004
The S.A.T. is hard to take. It's even harder to steal.
Hey look, a teen movie and a heist movie, married together! But is the offspring a deformed freak?
Kyle (Chris Evans, Not Another Teen Movie) has longed to be an architect. Since he was seven, he has known his destiny. Now, as a high school senior, he sees Cornell University as the best place he can go to make that dream a reality. But one thing stands in his way: the dreaded despair of the S.A.T., the mother of all standardized tests and the current bane of Kyle's existence.
Kyle needs a giant score to be considered for Cornell, and his pre-testing has shown that he just can't hack it. He's not alone in his S.A.T. jitters. Desmond (NBA star Darius Miles) needs to score decently to land a deal at St. John's University, Anna (Erika Christensen, Traffic) is being pressured by her high-expectation-having parents to do well enough to get into Brown University, and Matty (Bryan Greenberg) needs to get into the University of Maryland to be with his girlfriend.
The quartet is joined by bad girl Francesca (Scarlett Johannson, Lost in Translation) and Roy (Leonardo Nam), a pothead moron. The group, desperate to bring home the bacon on the test, plots to steal the S.A.T. scores. The risky venture soon becomes a multi-faceted heist, and the six are bound to each other in their commitment and motivation.
Along the way they'll learn valuable life lessons, believe in themselves, and say the mandatory PG-13 F-word.
The Perfect Score was a refreshing teen movie, with respect to the fact that the teens were good-natured, decent people eyeing bright futures. This wasn't a drink-till-they-fall-down exercise in cinematic debauchery; the characters weren't focused merely on getting in each other's pants and stealing the sheriff's car. Director Brian Robbins (of Head of the Class notoriety) sought to craft a film about good kids with good intentions pushed to doing a bad thing for what they perceived were good intentions. Okay, not bad.
Unfortunately, pretty much everything else falls flat and dies.
For starters, as a comedy, The Perfect Score just ain't that funny. The Roy character is the token comic relief druggie, but his giggling and slurring witticisms grow tiresome fast. Surprisingly, out of the six main kids, Roy is the only one tagged to shoulder the comic weight. Sure, the others have their moments, but it's all on Roy to elicit the laughs; a task that just can't be accomplished.
With one whiff in the comedy category, the movie also offers a swing-and-a-miss when it comes to teen drama. Obviously channeling the spirit of The Breakfast Club, the filmmakers include some heart-to-hearts, confessions, Important Life Decisions, and general bonding for the kids. About 25% of it doesn't come off as cheese-ball-a-riffic (particularly the quality time Desmond and Roy spend together, and Desmond's annoying mother). Some romances bud, but you can spot these coming from miles away.
Lastly, as a heist movie...nope. The actual theft is boring, with not a hint of the innovation needed by heist movies. In essence, we've got a bunch of kids running around an office building, waving their flashlights around like schmucks.
The performances are all stereotypical (a success then as the characters are all clichés?), with a sad face going to Darius Miles. The kid might have the skills to pay the bills on the court, but as an actor...yowch, flagrant foul.
Robbins and screenwriter Mark Schwahn provide a commentary track that informs but doesn't really entertain. A paint-by-number making-of featurette sports cast and crew interviews. Some trailers round out the bonus materials.
The widescreen transfer is sharp and easy on the eyes. For your ears, the 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is solid, with the subwoofer getting pleasantly pushed in a few parts. A nice presentation by Paramount.
I wanted to like the movie for its motivations, but the finished product proved to be only slightly more entertaining than taking the actual S.A.T.
A forgettable movie-going experience :: The Perfect Score
Cold :: frozen yogurt
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Making "The Perfect Score"
* Director's Commentary
* Official Site