The Perfect Score review by Mike Long

Over the past few months, Scarlett Johansson has seemingly been everywhere in the media due to her performances in Lost in Translation and Girl With a Pearl Earring. But, when her recent accomplishments are listed, the teen comedy The Perfect Score isn't regularly mentioned. As a matter of fact, I had no idea that she was in the movie, and her appearance on-screen marked only one of two surprises in this serviceable, but otherwise predictable movie.

The Perfect Score introduces us to Kyle (Chris Evans) and Matty (Bryan Greenberg), two best friends. They are both high-school seniors who approach academics very differently. Kyle is an above-average student who wishes to attend Cornell University in order to study architecture. Matty is more of a slacker who wants to go to the University of Maryland in order to be with his girlfriend. For both of them to achieve their goals, they need to score well on the S.A.T. The pair attempt to approach the Educational Testing Service (the company which oversees the S.A.T., whose offices are conveniently located in Kyle and Matt's hometown), but they are turned away at the door. But, they do learn that the building which houses E.T.S. is owned by fellow student Francesca's (Scarlett Johansson) father. Kyle and Matt approach Francesca and tell her that they want to break into the building, infiltrate E.T.S. and steal the S.A.T. scores. As Francesca has issues with her father, and is disillusioned in general, she agrees to help them. Unfortunately, Kyle and Matt are a little loose-lipped about their plans, and they are soon joined by nervous salutatorian Anna (Erika Christensen), basketball star Desmond (Darius Miles), and stoner Roy (Leonardo Nam). This motley crew of wannabe burglars attempt to overcome their differences and devise a plan which will get them safely in and out of the building and secure their futures.

The Perfect Score comes from the team of Brian Robbins (former actor turned writer/director/producer) and Mike Tollin, who have in the past been responsible for films such as Radio, Varsity Blues, and Good Burger. Their films are readily marked by having a grain of recognizable truth in their stories, but they are marred by the fact that they do nothing to challenge or stimulate the audience, and The Perfect Score is no exception. Anyone whos taken the S.A.T. can fully relate to the anxiety involved in the experience and the pipe-dream of sticking it to the man and stealing the answers is certainly an intriguing one, but the movie doesnt go much farther than that.

During the featurette included on the DVD Robbins admits that the movie contains more talking than action, and that may be one of the greatest flaws with the movie. Once the heist begins, there is some suspense, but even during the robbery, there is a lot of yakking. The movie opens with bonus points, as Roy, the Asian student, is presented as a ridiculous pothead instead of the typical "brainy" stereotype that we're used to seeing -- but even that changes by the end of the film. (And, Roy is actually the most entertaining part of the film.) The acting is OK, but never stellar. Evans is a likable leading man and he makes a good team with Greenberg. Christensen is just as stiff as ever (can't she move her neck) and her character shows no emotion. Real-life NBA star Miles isn't bad, but there are several times when he rushes his lines and one can't help but wonder why they didn't do a take 2. The Perfect Score wants to present a serious take on teenage fluff, but it never rises above adolescent fluff. Oh, and that other surprise in the film? The actor who plays Kyle's brother was a totally unexpected surprise.

The Perfect Score breaks into DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film is coming to DVD in two separate editions, one widescreen and the other full-frame. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Given the fact that this is a mid-budget recent release, the image is surprisingly grainy. In the daytime scenes, or any bright shot, the grain is very noticeable. There are also a few visible defects from the source print on the image. The colors are good, but some scenes are somewhat darker than others. Artifacting is obvious is certain shots, but it's not overwhelming. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which sounds fine. The dialogue is sharp and clear with the sound effects coming through very clean. The film contains a great deal of incidental music which sounds great in the surround sound channels, and it also livens up the subwoofer as well.

The DVD contains three extra features. Director Brian Robbins and screenwriter Mark Schwanh provide an enjoyable audio commentary, in which they focus on many aspects of the film, from the story, to the actors, to the shooting of the film. "Making The Perfect Score" (22 minutes) is a fairly standard making-of featurette in which Robbins discusses the development of the script, the casting, and the shooting of the film. This segment contains some behind-the-scenes footage and comments from the cast. Finally, we have the theatrical trailer for The Perfect Score, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1, but not 16 x 9.

5 out of 10 Jackasses

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