I suppose it’s a bit lazy to say that there’s nothing original where the plot of a movie or novel is concerned. I’ve heard it said that there are only seven basic stories that can be told and they’ve obviously been done to death. So, the trick is to bring a bit of enthusiasm and sincerity to whatever tale you’re trying to tell, which goes a long way towards making things seem fresh when they’re not. Of course, with today’s movies, copious special effects certainly help distract viewers from the fact that they’re watching the same old, same old.
So to say that The Perfect Guy is a rote exercise is no big surprise; many movies today are. But what makes this effort subpar is the way it so closely resembles other movies that have covered the same narrative territory, albeit with much more style and energy than is on display here. Director David Rosenthal and writer Tyger Williams make no effort to put a distinctive stamp on this standard stalker-thriller, content to follow lockstep in the path blazed by Cape Fear, Play Misty for Me, and Fatal Attraction among others. Mind you, while these films primarily tell the same story, they were executed with flair and intelligence, qualities that are sorely lacking here.
Sanaa Lathan is Leah, an assured, intelligent, up-and-coming business woman who has just broken up with her long-time boyfriend Dave (Morris Chestnut) because he isn’t ready to take that big leap and walk down the aisle with her. She has the misfortune of rebounding into the arms of Carter (Michael Ealy), a security specialist who’s too good to be true. He’s good looking, courteous, thoughtful and nurturing. He also happens to have a hair-trigger temper, has a bi-polar disorder and is very, very jealous.
Of course, Leah discovers this all a bit too late, having let Carter into her life to the point that he knows all of her weak points and then goes on to exploit them once she’s cut him loose. All of this happens very quickly as Rosenthal is intent on getting to the meat of the story as quickly as possible, meaning there’s very little time spent on character development, while logic is thrown to the wayside, just so much collateral damage en route to the film’s standard action scenes.
The one good thing on display here is the cast, composed of veterans who surely knew they were fighting a losing battle, yet soldiered on to bring some life to the stereotypes they’ve been saddled with. Lathan is always good and her transformation from victim to hunter is thoroughly convincing. And while Ealy has a thankless part, he brings more than a bit of creepiness to it, making Carter a genuine threat. However, the creaky plot, as well as the spastic editing by Joan Sobel, who makes simple conversations hard to follow with her rapid cutting, makes this Guy seem like a movie we’ve met before and never want to encounter again.