The Perfect Score


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"...this film could easily have been sub-titled Ocean's Eleventh Grade."




The Perfect Score
The Masked Reviewer

S.A.T.  If you can't spell it, you definitely shouldn't be taking it.

All over the country, high school students suffer at the hands of this exam.  The results can change a person's destiny forever.  Will you go to Yale, or will you work at the Weenie Hut?  Is there a difference?  Will you get into a prestigious school to play basketball, or will you be forced into the NBA straight from high school?  Will your obsession with filling in little circles with number 2 pencils be temporarily sated, or will you have to color in gaps in the teeth of every celebrity in People magazine?

The Perfect Score is a heist movie.  It's the story of several kids who decide to steal the answers to the S.A.T. so they can live their dreams.  Not only is it a heist movie, but it's a teen heist movie.  This is immediately apparent because not only does the film star teenagers, but it also stars teenagers that aren't big huge stars.

Bryan Greenberg plays Matty, and you've probably never seen him before.  Chris Evans was featured previously in Not Another Teen Movie.  Erika Christensen, who you may remember from Swimfan or Traffic is also in this movie.  Scarlett Johansson previously starred in The Horse Whisperer, Ghost World (not to be confused with Ghost Dog), Eight Legged Freaks, Lost in Translation, and Girl with a Pearl Earring (not to be confused with the upcoming porno, Girl with a Pearl Necklace).   Darius Miles, now playing for  the Portland Trailblazers, whose past work included Van Wilder and the Cleveland Cavaliers, can also be seen on screen and in scenes.  Lastly, Leonardo Lam of Nobody’s Perfect and Hacks has a role in this, too.

Okay, so maybe some of the actors are big huge stars.  But still, they're all relatively young. 

As you might expect, there are a lot of lines in this flick that feature variations on what the acronym S.A.T. stands for.  Some are more poignant than others.  However, they missed a few of the obvious ones.  "Stupid Acronym Test", for one.  "Sousa Ate Twinkies" is another.  "Surfers Are Tan."  "Squirrels Achieve Tranquility."  "Should Aardvarks Tapdance?"  The list goes on and on. 

So, here's the thing with The Perfect Score (because really, that's why you're reading this): for what it is (just another teen movie), it's actually rather good.  It isn't as dumbed-down as most teen movies are; the characters are all well developed and substantial.  They don't rely on stereotypes too much, and when they do, they make efforts to bend them in realistic ways.  Even the pot-smoking slacker character (a staple for any teen movie, it seems) is portrayed in a way that's fairly rich.  We learn why he smokes pot (like, to get high). 

In fact, that character steals the movie.  He's responsible for almost all of the laughs in the film, and he does an excellent job.  One of the best slacker performances of all time!  Really.  No kidding.  It'll make you want to cut class and drop out of school.  Leonardo Lam will definitely be getting more work after this film.

The movie is much better than you'd probably expect; it's got a slick sense of style.  The music is straight out of a recent Hollywood blockbuster that featured an all-star mega-cast pulling a heist in Vegas: in fact, this film could easily have been sub-titled Ocean's Eleventh Grade.  See, they take the test in the 11th grade.  Isn't that clever?  The Masked Reviewer would have gotten a 1600 on the S.A.T. if clever plays on words were part of the test. 

If you like movies about cheating, like Cheats or the made-for-TV Jeff Daniels vehicle Cheaters, then The Perfect Score will hold a deep interest for you.  However, you won't find any valuable tips on how to get a better score on the S.A.T., so if that's what you're hoping for, spend the 97 minutes studying instead.  It's actually more of a heist film, and it does that pretty well.  It also avoids the really sappy morality stuff; although there are plenty of instances of people doing "the right thing" in the film, they "keep it real" (as the kids say) and it seems believable and good, rather than goopy. 

There is no nudity.

The film will also appeal to people who have some strange fascination with the test; if you bombed on the test twenty years ago and you want to live out your fantasy of how your life may have played out if you had only scored a few hundred points higher on the S.A.T., you might enjoy The Perfect Score.  It's a teen movie that isn't spectacular enough to get a good rating, but it's above average, if you like that kind of thing.  No violence, either.  A bit of violence and some nudity, and it could've gone from okay to good.

Expectation from the Title: When Bobby parked at Riley's Lookout with Mary Sue, he never dreamed that things could go so well.  The buttons of her blouse came undone with the gentlest touch; her bra unlatched with a single motion; the whole evening went without a hitch.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  It's good to see that the kids pulled together as a team, even though cheating is wrong.

The Pros: Some good performances, very well written characters, a few good laughs.  Interesting plot and more or less believable.

The Cons: No nudity.  It's a teen movie. 

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