Back in the 1980s, a certain movie writer and mogul revolutionized comedies for a whole new generation with movies like “Sixteen Candles”, “Weird Science”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation”. His name was John Hughes and he became one of the most successful feature film comedy writers of all time. His films are loved today and it truly is amazing how much of the Hughes flavor is within the new comedy, “The Perfect Score”.
Like the classic Hughes film, “The Breakfast Club” we are introduced to the different sides of the teenage personality. The diverse range of high-school seniors which include Kyle (Chris Evans), Anna (Erika Christensen), Francesca (Scarlett Johansson), Matt (Bryan Greenberg), Roy (Leonardo Nam) and Desmond (Darius Miles) concoct a scheme to steal the answers for their SAT placement exams. Each has been wronged by the test and they decide their futures are in jeopardy if drastic measures aren’t taken. How can a number justify if you go to Harvard or community college?
The film has a simple plot but it’s the characters and their interactions that made me think of so many of those classic Hughes films. Like “The Breakfast Club” that really had a basic plot of 5 diverse teenagers are forced to spend a day of detention together, “Score” looks past the simple plot and more on what makes each teen tick. It is that simplicity and belief in the characters that made those films classic. The same is true here. I truly believe that this film fits that undeniable mold. And trust me, that isn’t a bad thing.
Housed within each of these characters we see a side of the teenage mind and their rebellious struggle we have been watching for decades on screen. We all cheered for “Ferris Bueller” or “Clark Griswold” as they bent the rules to accomplish their goals. And the same is here as we find that we want these kids to succeed.
I loved the spirit and sensibility that these characters had. I also loved how they connected with each other.
I also really liked the performance from Chris Evans who really felt like a vintage John Hughes character. I also loved the humor from Leonardo Nam, who plays stoner Roy. Nam’s humor and craziness as Roy was utterly hysterical. I loved that character even if he did partially remind me of a Kevin Smith creation.
The only real thing missing from this movie was probably an arch-nemesis. There was always a stuffy or strict older person who wanted to mess up the plans of the rebellious teens. In “Breakfast Club” you had Paul Gleason’s Principal Vernon and in “Ferris Bueller” you had Jeffrey Jones’s classic evil Principal Ed Rooney.
The film really needed that to make the heist more insane and delightful. I almost thought that was going to happen when I saw that Francesca’s dad was Fulvio Cecere of TV’s new series “Tarzan”. Cecere could have been a perfect villain. This whole angle could have also fleshed Francesca even more. It is too bad that wasn’t explored further.
All in all, “The Perfect Score” is a surprise and I think people who enjoyed some of the classic Hughes teen comedies like “Ferris Bueller”, “Weird Science” and “The Breakfast Club” will revel at the memories housed in this film.
If Hughes directed a “heist” comedy this is exactly what it would have been like.
(3.5 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer.