Kate Mosley was a highly creative, but relatively unsuccessful
employee of Mercer Advertising until her friend fixed her up with a
fiance. With a fiance, she is believed by her boss to be less likely
to leave town to go to work for one of his competitors and hence
reliable enough to work on the big Gulden's mustard account. Afterall,
it was her idea that snagged the client in the first place.
Now she has a fiance, Kate has become attractive to the office
wolf. Kevin Bacon, with the best hair in the movie, plays a hunk known
as Sam Mayfair. He does little apparent work and spends most of his
time romancing women who are already involved. Kate tells him that,
"you're always going to be the guy at the restaurant, who, when he gets
what he ordered, decides he wants what the other guy has instead."
Commitment is Sam's greatest fear, and dangerous liaisons his prime
turn-on. He is even more handsome than Kate is beautiful so they seem
eminently well matched.
Thanks to Nick, her fiance, she wins both the account assignment
and Sam. But there is a tiny problem. Nick is a facade. He lives
only in a picture taken almost by accident when she met him at a
wedding. Their life together, immortalized in the photo of their
chance encounter, has no basis in reality.
Written by Arleen Sorkin, and Paul Slansky and Glenn Gordon Caron,
the script of PICTURE PERFECT takes the typical romantic comedy formula
and puts enough spin on it to make it fresh. The intelligent dialog
has plenty of funny one-liners, but the film's beauty revolves around
the effective character development of the lead. Kate's would-be
lovers and her challenges at work make for an involving tapestry. As
directed by Glenn Gordon Caron, the director of the excellent but
relatively unknown CLEAN AND SOBER, the film focuses everything on Kate
and lets her set the show's pacing.
Kate is played by Jennifer Aniston, a star of SHE'S THE ONE and
the TV series "Friends." With her terrific looks, her happy and
vivacious demeanor and her tenacity, Aniston gives a compelling
performance as a hyperactive career woman, while making Kate an
incredibly likable character.
The show opens with a semi-shocking sequence, the upshot of which
has Kate throwing out the guy with whom her mother had fixed her up.
(Kate's mother is played with great gusto by Olympia Dukakis.) "I feel
like I can be honest with you," says the guy as he is being shown the
door. "You should ignore these feelings," she replies before she shuts
Kate's best friend, Darcy, played in a minor role by Illeana
Douglas, has been "married since birth." Darcy is the one who devises
the fake picture stratagem. Their boss, Mr. Mercer, played with a
cherubic smile by Kevin Dunn, is full of advice based on his career.
"You dress for the job you want, not the one you have," he lectures
Kate as part of his explanation of why she was not chosen to be on the
Gulden's account. But shortly thereafter he sees the infamous picture,
and Kate's career skyrockets.
Kate at first resists, but most of the show finds her playing her
fake love life for all it is worth. Her fairy-tale boyfriend and she
have an intricate imaginary life together. As expected, the big
complication comes when she is asked to produce Nick, underplayed with
a big shaggy-dog look by Jay Mohr. As anyone who has studied comedy
knows, this means that Kate and/or Nick will fall in love with the
other. How that plays out makes up the last half of the film.
Toward the end the story turns bittersweet. The inevitable scene
where Kate tells the truth is clumsily written and delivered. The
ending itself is exactly what you would expect from a typical romantic
comedy. One would have wished that the writers could have come up with
something fresher. A hard edged surprise ending would have been better
but would probably have been dropped after the first test screening.
Even if the ending is a disappointment, Kate is a fun person to hang
out with for a couple of hours.
PICTURE PERFECT runs 1:45. It is rated PG-13 for sexual
situations and language. The film would be fine for kids around twelve
and up. I recommend the film to you and give it ***.
Copyright © 1997 Steve Rhodes