“Who knows…he could be the perfect guy.”
If he has eyes like Michael Ealy, I too would think he could be The Perfect Guy. Leah Vaughn (Sanaa Lathan) appears to have it all: Being a key cog as a lobbyist for a big-time company, a beautiful home, and a handsome boyfriend, Dave King (Morris Chestnut). The two have been dating consistently for two years, and Leah is ready for Dave to fully commit and make her his wife. He isn’t, however, which leads the two to break up.
A few months after, Leah strikes up conversation with a cool, confident, and attractive fellow, computer security expert Carter Duncan (Michael Ealy). The two become inseparable, fall in love quickly, and Leah truly believes Carter may be the one…until she sees his charming exterior is a facade for a darker, unstable personality. When Leah decides to end the relationship, it turns out to not be the end of things between the two, but a stressful and hellacious beginning.
Stop me if this sounds familiar, but I’ll likely keep on bringing this up every time I watch and post about these types of movies. If you’ve read yours truly for a while now, you may know that the psycho-thriller subgenre is one of my favorites. Despite the similarities and lack of variety in it, it makes for good popcorn entertainment, which is ultimately what The Perfect Guy is. In a nutshell, it is a bad movie that could easily be putrid, but thankfully there is a semi-good time to be had here and there.
What is the difference between this, and say, recent films like No Good Deed (interestingly, TPG was greenlit after this, also featuring African-Americans in lead roles) and The Boy Next Door? Not much, but TPG is “stronger” compared to the other two. There’s a confident—not stellar—but confident direction given by director David M. Rosenthal (A Single Shot) that keeps the film squarely on the well-worn path of what came before it. There are some occasional random shots that add nothing to the plotline (Ealy doing pushups, a coyote crossing the street), and events in the plotline can jump ahead without warning preceded with fade-to-black transitions, but generally, there’s nothing technically wrong with how this looks. Score on the other hand? Most of it is too cheesy.
Plot-wise, this goes down exactly as one would expect. There is no clumsily inputted twist or story revelation (which is actually a good thing) that flips the script; what is here exists as is. It is self-referential in spots, though, especially with a bit that plays on Ealy’s role in Almost Human. About the only mild surprise comes near the end, in which the plot becomes a little “Enough-ish” circa 2002, but still ends how these movies usually do. The stages in the respective relationships move very quickly, making everything feel processed and on a fast track to get to the next thing rather than organically getting there, or at least feeling like it.
The cast is the strongest aspect of TPG. Sanaa Lathan is steady in what she’s asked to do, is smarter than most lead characters in the genre, and passes as a badass in the climax, Morris Chestnut is simply there to move things along, vanishing when needed to, and reappearing when the movie calls for it, but clicks enough with Lathan.However, the two that make this any better than it has a right to be are easily Michael Ealy, and Holt McCallany.
When watching Ealy in this, one wonders what heights he could reach if he received better roles. I’m not saying to take this as evidence that he could win an Oscar with what he does here, but he is real effortless in flipping a switch, from smooth to psychotic. Luckily his character, written as a security expert, allows him to be the “God mode” type character with it kind of—sort of—being believable. Some of what he has to do is downright comedic which probably wasn’t intended, but he seems to be in the know that it is comedic, even if the director doesn’t.
In what initially seems like a smaller role that grows into being more substantial as the runtime goes on, McCallany is great as the detective assigned to protect Leah. He’s actually knowledgeable and knows that he’s fighting an uphill battle to apprehend Carter. Yet, he doesn’t stop in protecting Leah only because the law has tied his hands. He also shares scenes with Ealy that are the best in the movie.
The Perfect Guy is not the psycho-thriller you marry and watch over and over again. It is the type of psycho-thriller that you spend some brief time with (100 minutes to be exact), have some fun, know what you’re signing up for, and, hopefully, being decently entertained in the process.
Photo credits go to dishnation.com, YouTube.com, and usatoday.com.
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