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Thursday, August 12, 2004

DVD Review: The Perfect Score 

What do you get when you combine The Breakfast Club with The Italian Job? The Perfect Score -- a teenybopper movie with one of the most absurd premises this side of Can't Buy Me Love. That's not necessarily bad -- teen movies tend to inherently ooze with schmaltz. This movie, though, breaks the schmaltz boundary about three times over.

A group of six cliched high school seniors have grand future plans. But they all share the same predicament; none scored high enough on the SAT to pursue the respective colleges of their choice. With a re-test only a few weeks away, Kyle (Chris Evans), who's desparately wanted to study architecture at Cornell since building a popsicle birdhouse as a kid, and his buddy Matty (Brian Greenburg), the lovestruck underachiever that wants to join his girlfriend at Maryland, devise a plot to steal the SAT scores from the EST corporate headquarters. Huh? God forbid they just study for the test, right? Anyway, needing an "inside man," they recruit Francesca (Scarlett Johannson), the daughter of an EST bigwig, with a massive "daddy doesn't pay enough attention to me" syndrome. With a chip on her shoulder the size of the pony daddy evidently never bought her, Francesca can help them gain access to the building.

Along the way they pick up Anna, the straight-laced salutatorian (Erika Christianson). Now why would an honors student need to steal the SAT answers? Of course it's because her mother has put untold pressure on her to attend Brown, and she of course cracked during the test, leaving half of it blank. Anna in turn brings in Des (NBA star Darius Miles), the all-city power forward that could jump to the NBA if his mom weren't pressuring him to go to St. John's. The last addition is the local stoner, Roy (Leonardo Nam), a brilliant-but-unmotivated oddball.

This motley crew is apparently as skilled in heists as they are in taking the SAT. The job goes awry when they find the filing room, where the answers should reside, empty. But Kyle won't give up that easily. He gets Roy to hack into a computer, and when they learn that multiple passwords are needed to print out the file, the group works together to take the test and figure the answers out themselves. It's a sugary-sweet lesson in cameraderie and law-breaking.

The Perfect Score could be an enjoyable hour-and-a-half of campy fun if it weren't the typical self-righteous MTV production. Like most of the network's fare, it plays on inequality and placing blame somewhere else. We wouldn't expect today's teenagers to show a little responsibility for themselves now would we? At its heart, the movie hits some of the classic teen genre hotspots, but I really don't need a civics lesson from the loony Left.



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