Viewers will watch “The Perfect Date” for Noah Centineo, but they’ll stick around for the refreshing societal commentary and unique storyline.
“The Perfect Date” is a new wave rom-com directed by Chris Nelson that was released on Netflix on April 12, with a star-studded cast who got their start on Disney Channel.
Brooks Rattigan, played by Centineo (“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “Austin & Ally”), is a ”vanilla” guy wishing to be something more. Although he lives a comfortable, middle-class Connecticut lifestyle with his college professor father, Brooks yearns for a more materialistic lifestyle. Brooks’ major goals in life are to get into Yale, date the most popular girl in school and drive the nicest car.
On his quest for acceptance to Yale, Brooks struggles with his college essays and overall knowing who he is as a person. To make money for college, Brook enlists his best friend Murph, played by Odiseas Georgiadis (“The Post”), to help him create an app called “The Stand-In” that allows him to sell himself as a customizable escort to take women on dates.
Instead of using female characters as shallow love interests accompanying the protagonist, “The Perfect Date” succeeds in introducing women with fleshed-out, self-sufficient personalities. Celia, played by Laura Marano (“Austin & Ally,” “Bad Hair Day”) and Shelby, played by Camila Mendes (“Riverdale”) are important characters and love interests for Brooks. Celia and Shelby defy romantic comedy norms by continually standing up for themselves and being confident in their futures despite being single.
The visuals and scoring of this film are trendy and laidback. The soundtrack resembles a Spotify playlist used for teen parties and there is a heavy usage of neon lights among low lighting, providing an atmosphere that is obviously intended to appeal to a younger audience. While the cinematography was trendy, it lacked uniqueness and failed to reflect the storyline’s complexity.
Despite the film’s star-studded cast, a lot of the comedians in the film went overlooked. Brooks’ father Charles Rattigan is played by Matt Walsh (“Veep”), a well-known comedian, but his character in this film lacks personality. This film had a lot of opportunities to use its comedic actors to an advantage, but these actors were instead swept under the rug to highlight dull emotional sub-plots.
One of the best aspects of the film is Brooks’ relationship with Murph. Murph is an openly gay black man and despite Brooks being straight they have an easygoing friendship. Brooks even encourages Murph to go and talk to his crush, a customer at the sandwich shop where they both work. Brooks also does not shy away from physical affection towards Murph, and he kisses him on the cheek when he agrees to help him build the dating app. The relationship between Brooks and Murph provides an element of inclusivity that many films and television shows lack.
“The Perfect Date” says a lot about how today’s rom-coms strive to be different. The movie tries to clearly depict Brooks’ relationships and emotions. The women in the film have in-depth characters that are not only there to support the male lead, and the film’s message is for people to be their true selves. However, although the film is trying to eradicate toxic masculinity by giving Brooks emotions and a back story, it misses the mark. Brooks continually treats the people in his life with disrespect, and he does not suffer for it in the end.
Score: 3 /5 stars