When a friend offers to pay him to take his cousin to homecoming, ambitious high schooler Brooks Rattigan gets an idea. What if he set up an app where girls who need escorts would hire him to be their “perfect date?” Not in the sense that he’d be having sex with them, seeing as that’s super illegal, but in the sense that they can tell him on the app how they want him to dress and behave. Brooks figures that if he makes enough money being a “stand-in” he can afford to pay for Yale, his dream college. But what happens when he winds up falling for one of his clients? Watch the movie and find out.
The Perfect Date feels like a movie where the pitch was, “American Gigolo, but in high school, and without sex.” Because that’s essentially what this movie is; a story about a prostitute falling in love with one of his clients, and things get complicated. Of course, Brooks isn’t, strictly speaking, a prostitute, since he doesn’t have sex with his clients, but enough characters make jokes about him being one to the point where the comparisons are unavoidable. All I’m trying to say is, The Perfect Date is a very familiar story. An ambitious person cooks up a hair-brained scheme to get rich quick, winds up losing everyone who really cares about him in the process, and, after being humbled, returns and apologizes to those that he’s hurt. It’s a paint-by-numbers plot, and its characters are pretty cliche. You’ve got the gay best friend, the dumb, but well-meaning dad, and the sassy girl whom the main character neglects until he realizes she’s the one he needed all along.
And yet, for all its cliches, I found The Perfect Date to be quite enjoyable. It’s well acted, has some funny dialogue, and it moves so fast that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s exactly 90 minutes long, and, let me tell you, it just breezes by. I only watched it because Noah Centineo of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is the star, and I liked him there. And, you know what? He’s perfectly charming here as well. He’s a bit more of a jerk than in To All The Boys, but he still manages to be sweet and funny. He’s like a combination between Mark Ruffalo and a young Hugh Grant. He looks an sounds like the former, in that he’s an Italian-American with a raspy voice, and he’s like the latter in that he tends to play charming, somewhat selfish rogues. Easily the best part of the whole film is his barbed interplay with Laura Marano, the client he winds up falling for. Their scenes have the funniest dialogue, and Laura herself is a very strong, sassy on-screen presence. If you want to watch something sweet, and funny, and not have it take up too much of your time, give this flick a look. It’s not as good as To All The Boys, which told its story in a more grounded fashion, with more understated dialogue, and more subdued acting, but, then again, this film isn’t To All The Boys. It’s its own thing. It’s a heightened, formulaic teen comedy, which coasts off the charm of its two stars. And, you know what? Sometimes that’s just enough.