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THE PERFECT SCORE
U.S. Release Date: January 30, 2004
Distributor: Paramount
Director: Brian Robbins
Writer: Mark Schwahn, Jon Zack
Producer: Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin
Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Erika Christensen, Matthew Lillard
Running Time: 1 hour and 43 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for language, sexual content and some drug references)

Nowhere Near 1600
by C.A. Wolski

There is nothing outstanding or offensive in the teen caper The Perfect Score. Indeed, the movie is so average that it could be used as a mean by which to grade all other movies in theatres today, which is ironic considering that the central plot point revolves around the dreaded SAT and the obsession the college bound have with test scores.

Missing any quirkiness or bite that the classic 1980's teen flicks had, The Perfect Score ambles along following the efforts of a group of diverse high school seniors—such as the class brain, a jock and a stoner—in their efforts to cheat on the SAT and fulfill their school-specific dreams. Leader Kyle (Chris Evans) wants to study architecture at Cornell, brainy Anna (Erika Christensen) wants to go to Brown, Matty (Bryan Greenberg) wants to join his girlfriend at the University of Maryland, Desmond (Darius Miles) wants to play basketball at St. Johns. Narrator and pot head Roy (Leonardo Nam) and class rebel Francesca (Scarlett Johansson) just tag along for the ride. Lamenting the horrors and inherent unfairness of standardized testing (which results in a few nice touches of satire), Kyle decides that the only course of action is to break into SAT headquarters, ETS, and steal the test. Francesca's father conveniently owns the building and so the would-be thieves begin planning their crime. More or less, it goes off as is expected, but with an artificial twist thrown in.

The script by Mark Schwann (Whatever It Takes), Marc Hyman (Osmosis Jones) and Jon Zack (Out Cold) is breezy and has dashes of wit, but no real belly laughs or sustained touches of satire, which could have given the movie the edge it deserved to have. There is little in the way of character development with the kids, except for Johansson and Nam being nothing much more than stereotypes. Credit should be given to director Brian Robbins (Varsity Blues) for imbuing several sequences with some nice surrealistic flourishes, but they're few and far between.

The acting is, like the rest of the movie, fairly average ranging from pretty good (Johansson) to pretty bad (Miles). The real standout is Nam who gives his stoner Roy the kind of charm this type usually lacks.

There is nothing to recommend The Perfect Score, but nothing to damn it either. It is the kind of movie to see if you have few expectations and don't mind that they are not met.


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