In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_sea_of_trees_ver5

The Sea of Trees

The Sea of Trees uses depression, cancer and suicide as manipulative devices to tug at heartstrings instead of offering even the slightest insight into the…

Thumb_dont_breathe

Don't Breathe

Don’t Breathe gets a little less interesting as it proceeds to its inevitable conclusion, but it works so well up to that point that your…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_uwwxd6bjuyrpw6iiniwfidyn6jc

The Decalogue

On Kieslowski's "The Decalogue," now being released theatrically in restored form and soon on Criterion Blu-ray.

Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

Picture Perfect

  |  

Sometimes a movie will include a subversive line of dialogue that shows somebody was paying attention. In "Picture Perfect,'' that line comes when the devious woman tells good guy: "This sounds like something out of 'The Patty Duke Show.' '' That hits the nail on the head. And it's a shame the plot is so contrived, because parts of this movie are really pretty good.



The film features Jennifer Aniston of TV's "Friends'' in her first leading movie role, as Kate, an ad executive who has good ideas, but projects the wrong image. She dreams up a campaign, but when the client buys it, she's not included on the account team. Why not? Mercer (Kevin Dunn), the agency head, says it's because she's not engaged and not in debt, so there's nothing to stop her from leaving the company. Then her best friend Darcy (Illeana Douglas) dreams up a scheme: She should claim to be engaged to a guy from Boston.

She has met this guy from Boston just once. His name is Nick (Jay Mohr), he videotapes weddings for a living, and he's in love with her. In a nice, subtle touch, we can sense the moment he first notices her, because we're looking through the point of view of his viewfinder at a wedding when his camera focuses on her, and freezes. Kate contacts him and offers him $1,000 to come to New York for a weekend, pose as her boyfriend, and break up with her publicly. That way she'll get the job and be able to explain her freedom. It's at this point that she uses the Patty Duke line, and then he turns down the money.

I'm not sure "Picture Perfect'' paints a very accurate portrait of the requirements that modern ad agencies have for their employees; it sounds more as if Kate is being considered for a job as a deaconess. But never mind. The plot thickens when she immediately has an affair with the office bad boy (Kevin Bacon), who thought she was "too nice'' until she got "engaged,'' but claims he's not attracted by the thought that he's stealing her away from her fiance.

The movie has some nice dialogue touches. I like how Darcy justifies her bright idea about the Boston boyfriend to Kate: "We're in advertising, Kate. I didn't lie--I sold.'' I like the way Kate prepares a "study guide'' so that Nick will know all about her if anybody asks specific questions. And I like Nick's sweet little speech about why he feels so privileged to videotape the most important moments in his client's lives.

But against those moments are some huge distractions. One is the plot, which has Kate being so incredibly crass and rude toward Nick that we almost fall out of sympathy with her--and lose respect for Nick for putting up with it. Another is the character of Kate's mother (Olympia Dukakis), who pops up regularly to do things that, frankly, she seems too bright to do.

And the third, which becomes a distraction during at least the last third of the movie, is Jennifer Aniston's neckline. After the agency boss advises her to buy a new dress, she appears in a series of plunging frocks that seem designed to advertise the powers of the Wonderbra. Aniston is pretty, and she has a swell body, but these dresses get to be a joke after a while; is she auditioning for Playboy's "Girls of Summer''? It was W. C. Fields who hated to appear in the same scene with a child, a dog, or a plunging neckline--because nobody in the audience would be looking at him. Jennifer Aniston has the same problem in this movie even when she's in scenes all by herself.



Popular Blog Posts

Hollywood Gave Up on You: The Summer Movies of 2016

A look back at how this summer's best offering, Netflix's "Stranger Things," makes the failure of this season's block...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Top 11 Female Film Characters of All Time

All month, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists has been counting down the top 55 female film characters of all tim...

Dirty Politics May Ruin Distribution, Oscar Chances of Phenomenal "Aquarius"

Pablo Villaça reports on the sad status of Brazil's government and its possible effect on a phenomenal new film from ...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus