[Screen It]


(2016) (Terrence Jenkins, Cassie Ventura) (R)

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Comedy: A playboy finds himself falling in love for the first time with a woman who may just be unattainable.
Charlie (TERRENCE JENKINS) is the quintessential L.A. playboy. He's an entertainment industry agent who has never had a steady relationship, but instead has enjoyed a myriad of one-night stands and uncommitted hook-ups. Charlie's sister, Sherry (PAULA PATTON), wonders if her brother will ever commit to a woman two decades after the tragic loss of their parents. When his best friend, Victor (ROBERT CHRISTOPHER RILEY), gets engaged to longtime girlfriend, Ginger (LAUREN LONDON), Victor and their mutual buddy, Rick (DONALD FAISON), bet Charlie he can't stay true to one woman until Victor's wedding. Charlie happily accepts the bet, while Victor deals with his Bridezilla and Rick knuckles through possible infertility problems with his wife, Pressie (DASCHA POLANCO).

Into Charlie's life walks the beautiful, but slightly mysterious Eva (CASSIE VENTURA). She has only done long-term, committed relationships, but is intrigued to try something more casual with no strings attached for the first time in her life. So, she and Charlie start seeing each other, having casual sex at his house and in a public restaurant. Meanwhile, Charlie has to deal with a crooked boss named Marty (JOE PANTOLIANO), who wants him to sign rapper French Montana (HIMSELF) to a contract that is more in their agency's favor than the recording artist's.

Charlie's real passion is photography, though, and Eva encourages him to pursue this love. He gradually falls for her. But he then learns she's been playing him and is engaged to be married to someone else. Will Charlie return to his life of cheap thrills, or will he finally grow up and move forward with his life? And will it be with Eva?

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
For films not screened for the reviewing press or very late the evening of release, we only provide a few paragraphs of critical analysis.

There are few movies more boring to me than "the playboy who gets tamed" flicks. The beats, by now, are so familiar. You know exactly where each film of this type is headed within the first few minutes. And it's darn-near impossible to come up with an original twist. But, if you're going to do one of these stories, what you absolutely have to get right is the casting of the main Casanova, the lead lothario, the wild stallion whose spirit needs to be broken. And while Terrence Jenkins is certainly a likable actor and host of various E! and BET programming, he ain't much of a Casanova. Now, he and Romeo could have been friends. But cast as the pinnacle playboy? Uh, no. As one female audience member sitting behind me at my recent screening so astutely observed 15 minutes into this flick, "He ain't all that!"

Now Eddie Murphy in "Boomerang?" Will Smith in "Hitch?" Mel Gibson in "What Women Want?" Ryan Gosling in "Crazy, Stupid Love?" All four of those on-screen stud ponies were "all that." And they made those flicks and those characters work. You actually wanted to see those dudes meet their match and fall target to Cupid's arrow. Here, Jenkins is so nice-guy good and bland as entertainment industry agent Charlie Mac, that he's practically forgettable in scenes before they are even over. And you just know he's really a wounded heart romantic hiding from past loss. You just know it.

To compensate, director Bille Woodruff and a trio of screenwriters over-pad their film with subplots involving Charlie's best friend, Victor (Robert Christopher Riley), trying to survive his Bridezilla's (Lauren London) wedding planning; his other best friend, Rick (Donald Faison), having problems conceiving a child with his wife (Dascha Polanco); his ditsy psychologist sister (Paula Patton), attempting to analyze him at every turn; problems at work involving a crooked boss (Joe Pantoliano) playing an up-coming-rapper against a rising YouTube sensation, while cross-promoting a cutting-edge cell phone app; and so forth.

I'll give the movie points for its relaxed pace. The writers and actors seem to really like their characters here, too, and I also appreciated that the film never devolved into a broad smut farce as so many flicks of this type do. There is an emphasis of class over crass here, for the most part, as the characters know their wine, their art, their fashion, and so forth. But there's just no spark, no reason for being. The chemistry between Charlie and Cassie Ventura's Eva is not there either. I really wish the film had seduced me. But I was the one who left the theater untamed. "The Perfect Match" rates a 4 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed March 10, 2016 / Posted March 11, 2016

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