With an overabundance of romantic comedies coming out these days, any new entry into the genre has no choice but to try something new and exciting if it wants to stand out. Maybe that something is giving us a great pair of leads with a fantastic chemistry like in Silver Linings Playbook, but it could also be something as simple as throwing zombies into the mix like Shaun of the Dead. So, what exactly does the 2016 release of The Perfect Match have that separates it from all the rest in an overstuffed market? In actuality, not a lot. The Perfect Match isn’t something you should go pay to see in a theater. Instead, it’s the type of movie you should wait to release on BET or Lifetime a year later, since it manages to just feel like a made for television movie that somehow made it on the silver screen.
The Perfect Match stars Terrence J as Charlie, a playboy photographer who hates attachment but loves sleeping with countless women on a regular basis. Believing his love life needs a change, Charlie’s friends and family try setting him up with female friends of their own, but every time he rejects their advances. That is until he meets Eva (Cassie Ventura), a woman who shares his desires of a “friends with benefits” mentality, causing the two to form a fling together. However, Charlie’s playboy lifestyle just might have to change as he begins to consider if he has feelings for Eva and her spirited personality.
As far as bland romance movies go, I will give The Perfect Match this, many of the background characters add a considerable amount of charm to the narrative. Charlie himself is alright and relatable to a certain point, but it is the stories of his best friends Rick (Donald Faison) and Victor (Robert Christopher Riley) that give the story a little more spark. With Rick and his wife trying to conceive a child, and Victor about to marry his childhood sweetheart, there can be some genuinely funny moments that arise from these situations, and the film’s best laughs are when these three friends are together realizing how much their lives have changed over the years.
Additionally, the last half of this movie is considerably better than the first. While the opening is definitively messy and sometimes directionless, when the story’s twist is revealed things actually begin picking up in terms of developing Charlie as an individual. The fact that there was a twist at all surprised me, and it helps save the project from being a hundred percent generic. With Charlie being put into a situation he doesn’t know how to handle, both the best and worst aspects of his personality begin to shine through. Whether it’s from when he pushes his friends away or when he starts mulling over straying away from his own family, the last act is easily where this film stands tallest. The Perfect Match should also be given credit for not ending in the most cliché way possible, and actually tries to do something, at the very least, somewhat different from the average romance flick.
However, as it was clearly stated before, the majority of The Perfect Match is just generic and unimaginative. There’s really nothing here you haven’t seen before or seen done considerably better. Considering the fact that the only other people in the theater during my viewing left less than half way through the movie, it isn’t implausible to say the first 30 minutes could be a turn off for regular viewers. From the needless amount of scenes featuring Charlie dealing with work problems to Eva’s forced introduction, it all just comes off as feeling unfocused and without proper direction. With the first half projecting itself as drawn out filler for the second half, who would want to sit through half a movie waiting for something truly interesting to happen?
Yet, what feels like this film’s biggest problem of all is how unbelievable the romance is between Charlie and Eva’s characters. The audience is given little to no time for the pair to develop a chemistry with one another, instead being replaced with three overstylized sex scenes that belong in a music video. Somehow, we’re expected to believe that Charlie is falling in love with this woman, when in reality he’s just treating her the same way he’s been treating women for years, as sex objects. Sex does not equal romantic chemistry, which is something this movie is severely lacking thanks to the lead characters we’re given.
At the end of the day, The Perfect Match does have some good ideas going for it, but the overall package is just too bland and messy to warrant sitting through it just for the good parts. A year from now, perhaps this movie will find an audience on late night MTV because it really does just come off as a made for television romance from beginning to end. If you do end up seeing this movie in theaters and loving it, than I am genuinely happy for you. You could definitely do a lot worse than The Perfect Match, but when it’s all said and done this match is far from perfect and just ends up settling into a “Mediocre Match.”