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Friday, 16 June 2017

Retro Review: Picture Perfect (1997)

Picture Perfect
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jay Mohr, Kevin Bacon
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $44 million

Plot: A young advertising executive's life becomes increasingly complicated, when, in order to impress her boss, she pretends to be engaged to a man she has just met

'Less Than Perfect'

A romantic comedy deprived of light humour and with a bland and boring screenplay, Picture Perfect is a Jennifer Aniston mid-1990s offering, which virtually offered little in the way of elevating her super-stardom and alas, doesn't do justice to her potential in her then-upcoming transition from TV actress to A-list movie star at the time. 

It begins like a workplace comedy that transitions as a rom-com only 4 mins later. Kevin Bacon's Sam shows up and Kate is infatuated with him. Kate is a young, highly ambitious advertising executive based in New York, who is passed up for promotion by her boss, who doesn't think she is dependent enough to be reliable on the long-term. The company just landed a deal with a mustard (?) company and yet, Kate is excluded from the team, on the basis that her boss is highly sceptical about her future. On the advice of her best friend, Kate fakes an engagement to a wedding photographer, of whom she barely knows and stages a break-up, after she gets promoted and in order to test Sam, who admits to being a womaniser or something on the lines of that. 

The film treads on similar lines to Paul Hogan's My Best Friend's Wedding, which was also released in 1997. 

Jennifer Aniston has been an actress, whose work has somewhat baffled me: she has had tremendous success on the TV sitcom, Friends and before that, she appeared in low-budget Z-list straight to DVD flicks. Her movies on the other hand, outside of her TV work, haven't really interested me. And yet for all of this, she is still a talented actress, whose potential, despite her star power, hasn't really enticed me, due to the flimsy scripts she gets. She's a nice person in real life, don't get me wrong and whilst arguably or rightly so, she fares alongside Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock in the rom-com ranks, her movie work is kind of so-so, and unlike Roberts, there are fewer films of Aniston's that I like or enjoy a lot. 

1997's Picture Perfect was Aniston's first star billing role in a major film; a lot of people will complain or say that here she plays the same type of character from Friends here. I have to say that the script and the film itself let Aniston down and with more work in this area, it would have been far more entertaining. Although she was far from her best here. It felt too much like a sitcom and an extended sitcom: the material is so lacklustre and derivative. There were no moments that made me gasp or leap out of my chair. I expected a lot more from a movie of this type. 

Jay Mohr as Nick is not bad as the nice-guy type, but his performance lacked conviction; Kevin as the other love interest was, okay but nothing special. Kevin is not known for rom-coms, but with a better effort and his looks (I liked his hair in this one), he should've warranted more light-hearted roles, as opposed to being typecast as the slimeball villain. Which is a role he always plays. Steel Magnolias' Olympia Dukakis plays Kate's mother. 

Picture Perfect made me smile like once and this movie came out in the same year as My Best Friend's Wedding. As a film, a lot of it just didn't make a lot of sense, it was very predictable and the story becomes dreary and lacking appeal. The romantic element was underplayed too much and wasn't well conceived and with the movie not having enough funny and good-hearted moments, Picture Perfect just doesn't do the trick. 

Final Verdict:

Unlike Jennifer Aniston herself, this film is largely forgettable and doesn't tug at the heartstrings and compared to many other romcoms, it doesn't want to make you care much about the characters. I just couldn't really connect with any of them.

It fulfils all of the rom-com tropes and follows the exact formula as with every other rom-com - but its execution is too safe, despite being riddled with cliches, and is nothing we haven't seen before in other predecessors and successors. That and it just wasn't watchable all the way through. 

Picture Perfect was far from it. It's unremarkable, bland and with not very pleasant characters to boot. 


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