Genres: Young Adult
When I began seeing ads for The Perfect Date, a new Netflix-only movie about a guy who has Ivy League aspirations and community college budget, I was intrigued. YA movies are hit or miss on whether they fall into my wheelhouse, but I loved To All the Boys I Loved Before (movie > book IMO) and I especially liked Noah Centineo as an actor, so I decided to watch The Perfect Date on my flight from DC to Chicago (and then Chicago to Lansing, MI since I wasn’t quite finished).
(I’m going to come right out and say that The Perfect Date has great bones but falls a little short. Is this a book-to-movie? I need to find out, because if it’s a book, I bet it’s better.)
Brooks Rattigan wants to go to Yale.
As a cashier/sandwich boy at the local sub shop, he needs to find a creative way to get there. His grades are fantastic, he is the dream student – on paper. But he lacks a way to show his personality to admissions to make sure he’s a shoo-in. He’s a little lost but doesn’t know it.
When one of his rich classmates comes into the sub shop to order some lunch, he mentions to a friend his uncle is paying him to escort his difficult cousin to her formal. Brooks volunteers (as long as he gets paid AND gets to drive his car), and so begins the story of an app that allows Brooks to be an escort for girls who need dates, to annoy their fathers, or dating practice. Toss in a little boy-meets-ascerbic-girl-who-may-or-may-not-be-into-him, and you get some tension (but not a lot).
The story has GREAT potential but it’s flat. What I noticed when I was watching it was that I wanted more depth from the characters. Brooks is told he needs to find a way to bring his personality and the things that matter to him forward for the Yale admissions officers. He needs to find a way to stand out. And he can’t figure out how. Throughout the movie, I noticed that trend among all the characters; like the screenwriters barely scratched the surface with them. I wanted to know more about Brooks, I wanted to know more about why Celia is distant and doesn’t let people in. I wanted to know more about Brooks’ father’s struggles as a single dad and writer. What we’re given is very topical and doesn’t dive into the nuances of these characters.
I would have also liked to see more time spent on the dates, not just snippets. Brooks learns all about himself from his dates, but you never really see anything below surface level from it. Shelby’s character just feels like filler, and so does Murph’s.
I’m giving this 3.5 stars because I enjoyed it, but I could have enjoyed it more if they dove deeper into character development.
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