The Perfect Date – review (Netflix)

   Maybe I’m getting softer as I age. Films seem to have more of an emotional impact on me of late. Not that I was some soulless, hard-hearted, individual before, but I definitely do get much more of the feels when watching a film these days. 

    It could be that I’ve been overwhelmed with the sheer volume of films, shows and content I watch and am now having some sort of a breakdown. I mean, aside from a couple of god-awful horror films, a truly mediocre actioner and a couple of good and excellent series, I have been, of late, watching a lot of rom-coms.

   Admittedly, I do enjoy a rom-com. One I reviewed recently was even in my demographic, The Lovers. Generally, though, rom-com’s tend to look at young love or, as is the case with Netflix’s The Perfect Date, teenage love. 

    Brooks Rattigan (Noah Centineo) lives with his father, Charlie (Matt Walsh) his parents having divorced and his mother going off and marrying a wealthy man and having a new family. Brooks works in the local Sub sandwich restaurant with his best friend, Murph (Odiseas Georgiadis), hoping to save enough money to go to the college of his dreams, Yale.

    As he and Murph discuss how he is going to raise enough money to go to Yale, Reece (Zak Steiner), a rich kid who goes to the same school as them comes into the restaurant, bemoaning the fact that his father wants to pay him to take his cousin to the prom. 

   Spotting an opportunity, Brooks offers to take the cousin out. Reece takes him up on the offer. Brooks goes to the Lieberman’s house to pick up Reece’s cousin, Celia (Laura Marano). Celia, knowing her cousin paid for Brooks to take her out, is initially obnoxious. Brooks manages to win her over. She suggests, jokingly, that he rents himself out as a partner. 

   Brooks mulls the idea over. He asks Murph, who is a computer and tech wiz, to create an app for him. Business immediately takes off for him. He and Celia become friends with most people believing them to be a couple. 

   Celia likes Franklin (Blaine Kern III), a vinyl music-loving, street graffiti artist, who seems, at first glance more of a fit for her. Brooks helps her get with him. Brooks also has a crush. He wants to get together with Shelby Pace (Camila Méndes), a beautiful rich girl. Brooks and Celia hatch a plan for a public breakup.

   Celia, Brooks, and Murph go out. Celia likes Brooks more than she realises. Brooks has her firmly in the friend-zone, meticulously planning the breakup for a party they are going to. 

    The plan works perfectly for Brooks, with Shelby falling for him after seeing the breakup. Celia is not so into Franklin. She is also wounded when Brooks’ goes too far when doing their fake breakup. At another party Brooks, no longer in contact with Celia, takes Shelby to the party. At the party one of his ex-clients recognises him and he is forced to confess to Shelby. 

    Shelby dumps him for lying. Brooks writes a letter to Celia, belatedly realising that he really misses her. She reads it and forgives. They get together. The end. 

    The Perfect Date is a rom-com, coming-of-age film that is an easy ninety minutes entertainment. The central pairing of Centineo and Marano works really well, the chemistry between them strong enough for you to believe they could get together.

   The story is light and just about plausible within the rules of romantic comedy. The Perfect Date does not have laugh-out-loud moments. It is more of an amusing story rather a rollicking, situations for laughs comedy. 

   That is not to say it is not humorous, it is. It just leans more into the sweetness than the comedy.  There is no great mystery or surprises in the film. Every element in this pretty formulaic rom-com happens as you would expect it to. 

    Unlike other teen set, coming-of-age comedies, The Perfect Date doesn’t embrace the mean kid ethos overly. Zak Steiner’s Reece is arrogant and mildly condescending, but he does not view Centineo’s Brooks as anything more than one of the many students who, unlike him, does not come from money. Mendes’ Shelby is little more than eye candy, her involvement barely taking up fifteen minutes screen time. 

   These are minor gripes as overall, The Perfect Date is an enjoyable film that does and shows exactly what you expect. Nice. 

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