home | art &
architecture | books & cds | dance | destinations
| film | opera
| television | theater | archives
The Perfect Score
The Perfect Score
comes up short both as a teen flick and as a caper. While it might have marginal appeal to
a certain young audience, watching it is certainly less engaging than actually taking the
SAT, the infamous college entrance examination which provides the subject matter of the
Brought to the screen by Brian Robbins (the purveyor of the television
teen drama Smallville and the film Varsity
Blues), The Perfect Score has a simple premise: six kids conspire to
steal the answers to the test in hopes of obtaining high enough scores to lead them to
their desired colleges--and futures.
Unfortunately, the students dont stray too far from the mold.
Kyle (Chris Evans) is an aspiring architect, a good student who dreams of going to
Cornell, but on his first time taking the test falls a couple of hundred points shy of the
score required for admission there. His female counterpart Anna (Erika Christensen) is the
class salutatorian whose overbearing parents push her to go to Brown, even though her
fantasy, and initial score on the test, indicate shed be better off elsewhere.
Kyles best friend Matty (Bryan Greenberg), a mediocre student,
simply wants to join his girlfriend at a state university. Desmond (Darius Miles), a star
basketball player under the thumb of his wise mother, needs the fairly modest score of 900
(1600 is perfect) to get into the college where he is invited to play before he goes pro.
Francesca (Scarlett Johansson), who dresses punk, handily is the daughter of the sleazy
guy who runs the outfit that publishes the SAT. She joins the fun just because shes
a rebel. Meanwhile, stoner Roy (Leonardo Nam) gets in on the plan only because he
overhears Kyle and Matty talking about it in the schools rest room.
The various trespasses the kids commit on the testing service office
are nothing short of preposterous, which might be fine if the filmmakers clearly intended The
Perfect Score to be nothing more than a crazy caper. Yet the shenanigans arent
fun or even interesting. On his first attempt to get the test, Kyle, disguised as an
office boy, actually comes in possession of his prize. But instead of photocopying it, he
puts it in the paper shredder. (A kid that careless doesnt deserve to get into
Of course, getting past the clueless security guard and complex
electronic security system is all in a days work for these kids, too. The humor
falls as flat as the hackneyed plot contrivances. And while its initially refreshing
to see the Asian guy as something other than a nerd, alternatively making him the cliched
stoner is annoying and just short of insulting. Theres nothing worse than a clown
who's not funny. Pulling off the movies meager genuine moments are Johanssen, who
simply rises above the weak material, and Miles, who displays a real warmth that makes
Dess predicament seem all the more human than those of his compatriots.
Strangely, Robbins and writers Marc Hyman, Jon Zack and Mark Schwahn
even try to inject a little humanity into the proceedings, which results in the biggest
thud of all. In the end, The Perfect Score doesnt have the bite of Election, the outrageousness of American
Pie or the earnestness of The
Breakfast Club. While it might evoke mild amusement for the most average
college-bound high-school kid, The Perfect Score flunks when tallied as
entertainment for a general audience.
- Leslie Katz