I saw The Perfect Guy last week but it took me forever to write a review. Why?
I mean, the film had black people in it. I live for black films. And also, it was not a churchy movie or a Tyler Perry movie, so I really should have loved it. I love black films. I love black people.
It had Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut, and Michael Ealy. I love them. I love them.
So why didn’t I love The Perfect Guy?
It was dry as hell! We are immediately dumped into this boring at best, vapid at worst couple’s relationship melodrama and we don’t have any sort of empathy for either of them. Sanaa is playing the role rather shrill and unsympathetic and Morris seems to come off as a cad. So it seems.
Michael does a bang-up job as the titular perfect guy, and we see more personality in him, but I mean you have to, because you know he has the biggest transition to make in the film. We have to believe he is a great dude and we also have to believe he is crazy.
My failure to connect with any of the characters has nothing to do with the actors, though. It was definitely the writing.
I must say, the scene where Sanaa takes Michael (see how I don’t even remember their names?!) back to her parents’ house was well done. That was good writing and good acting. But the majority of the rest of the film is utterly predictable. Just because all the characters are black doesn’t mean it’s not predictable. We have seen the stalker boyfriend movie before a million times over.
You know what else? This movie for damn sure was hampered by the PG-13 rating. The Perfect Guy is so restrained it practically begs for nudity and violence. Okay, maybe the film itself didn’t beg but I sure am! We want to hear the F-bomb! We want blood! And dammit, we want cheekaleeks! What’s the point of a psycho stalker boyfriend film without gratuitous violence? Without those things, I was left feeling as though I saw a really good Lifetime movie… but I don’t pay this MoviePass fee for Lifetime!
Finally, I do want to say a word on what makes a movie “black.” As you know, the purpose of my movie reviews is to answer the fundamental question whether there were black people in it. But I also want to have just plain good conversations about representation in general. So what does it mean that The Perfect Guy was the typical psycho stalker boyfriend film, but happens to have a black cast?
People have said that this film had “colorblind” casting. Uh, no the hell it didn’t. It was a very color-aware film. If it was colorblind, I dare say it would have been a more multi-ethnic cast. I believe that this film was made to make a point, or to test a theory, even though the point has been made and the theory has been proven time and again:
Yes, black films will perform well in the box office. Okay, we get it.
But as for me? I would have loved to have seen more blackness in the film, culturally speaking. I don’t mean Sanaa had to rock a natural hairstyle or fry chicken while wearing a kente apron. I mean, why not wear a Spelman sweatshirt? Or have an elephant collection in her living room? Or any number of other little touches that the average college educated black person might have. The Cosby Show was great at this, as well as Steve Harvey’s old sitcom, and that sitcom on Nickelodeon with the obnoxiously large Omega shield in the living room.
Now I did like the reggae club scene, but the more I think about it, the less I like that it was tied to the notion of being exotic and forbidden. Black spaces are not exotic. They’re not just where we want to go when we want to have illicit sex. They are just spaces.
The Perfect Guy was not a bad movie. It was just an unremarkable movie. Like mayonnaise. Black people can do better than mayonnaise.