Reel Shorts | The Perfect Guy

982843_1280x720Hell hath no fury like a ninja scorned in the predictable, one-note, drama, The Perfect Guy. Screenwriter Tyger Williams’ long-awaited follow-up to his winning ‘hood screenplay, Menace II Society, expends a lot of energy without much to say.

Lobbyist Leah Vaughn (Sanaa Lathan) is living the good life. She has a successful career, a beautiful home and a handsome boyfriend, Dave (Morris Chestnut) that she hopes will anchor her family. Soon it becomes apparent that his upbringing is preventing him from moving forward with Leah and she decides to break it off.

Before you can say “pretty blue eyes,” Leah rebounds with a charming new man, Carter (Michael Ealy), a computer-security analyst who is EVERYTHING she is looking for – on the surface. He’s kind, considerate, thoughtful and soon Leah is the envy of her family and friends.

But as the old age says, “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.”

Everything seems to be on track until Carter unleashes anger management issues in front of a horrified Leah, who immediately pumps her breaks on the relationship, much to the consternation of her spurned beau. If he can’t have her, he will rest assure, that NOBODY else will either.

Much in the vein of films like Fatal Attraction, Sleeping With the Enemy and Enough, Lathan plays the proud protagonist who must first fully understand what she is dealing with and figure out how to survive. Director David M. Rosenthal (A Single Shot) tries to inject some passion into this overly familiar tale, but there seem to be no new tricks up his proverbial sleeve.

The beautiful Lathan’s performance, as Leah, feels very familiar, which probably is a by-product of her earlier efforts in films such as Something New, Brown Sugar, The Family That Preys, Disappearing Acts, and countless others. Lathan has a propensity to often partner with co-stars who bring the best out in her. Unfortunately, try as he might, Ealy only brings out her fear and desperation – neither which provide any serviceable jolt to the story. While everyone in the film, and in the audience as well, knows she’s in danger, it takes her a LONG time to finally get the hint.

The best thing about the story is Ealy, who is solid as the cold, calculating, stone-cold irritant that makes Leah’s life a living hell. One can only wonder that if he was working with a better story, just how much higher he could have elevated his performance.

Over the past twenty years, Williams has labored, unsuccessfully, to bring one of his countless screenplays to the big screen. After enjoying so much success with Menace, it is a shame that this is the effort that finally saw the light of day. Whether it was the marketing campaign that seemed to give the story away or the lack of layers or twist involved that would give the film some additional depth or nuance, the film feels like a glorified Lifetime movie on the big screen.

Despite Williams’ script, a dialed-in performance by Lathan and a scary performance from Ealy, The Perfect Guy never rises above the countless other films in its genre and sadly will be misremembered as the “imperfect” vehicle that tarnished the name of a former rising-star writer. Now, you understand the REAL reason why Ealy was hiding under the bed in the trailer!”

Grade: D+