Teen movies are a tricky genre. Even if they score as a hit with the audience, years later people will look back and wonder why they ever liked such cheesy nonsense. It has to do with being in high school, which is the only time that high school movies are sufferable. And only high school kids will find anything likeable about The Perfect Score.
Kyle (Chris Evans) desperately wants to become a Cornell University student. But he can’t pass the SATs. His buddy, Matty (Bryan Greenberg), desperately wants to go to the University of Maryland and reunite with his girlfriend. But he can’t pass the standardized test either.
So what do they do? They decide to steal the answers and cheat. Nevermind studying; nevermind the fact that someone will notice that they doubled their previous scores; nevermind that anyone at Cornell would realize that our protagonist isn’t all that smart.
To get help with the heist, they enlist the over-sexed, anti-establishment Francesca (Scarlett Johansson, taking a break from serious art-house films), who spends the whole movie in a push-up bra.
It just so happens that Francesca’s dad works in the same building as the company that writes the test and that building is actually in the same town. Go figure.
While plotting the heist, Roy the stoner (Leonardo Nam) gets in on the plan. He provides the only comic relief, including a scene where he notices Francesca’s “features.”
Kyle’s romantic interest is the teacher’s pet, Anna (Erika Christensen), who gets involved because she’s a poor test-taker. How Anna earned a 4.0 GPA with that kind of disability is pure MTV Films at work.
Anna decides to bring along the school’s basketball star, Desmond (Darius Miles), who does a great job of acting like a basketball player who can’t act. Maybe that’s just the angle he was going for.
So the crew of six tackles a truly hole-ridden plan to sneak into a building, and attempt to steal the SATs. But that wouldn’t really be a message for the target audience, would it? No, you can’t tell ninth-graders to cheat and get away with it, especially if the cheating involves felony and burglary. Not to give away the ending, but it is no surprise. This film is not that controversial.
But it is full of hypocrisy. During one scene, Francesca is smoking a cigarette. Matty chides her: “Kind of makes kissing gross.” He later ends up making out with her. The film wants to be bad, but it feels like it has to make apologies for it at the same time. The cool character in the movie smokes pot, not on camera, but there are “just exhaled” scenes.
At the end of the movie, a strong mother figure comes in from out of nowhere and somehow encourages him to stop. In the first few scenes, the two main characters throw around expletives, which then mysteriously dry up.
There really is no saving grace to this film. It might have one or two genuine laughs, but at times it fails to even try.
Also, The Perfect Score doesn’t even make an attempt at drama, so it basically feels like a slick MTV show. The real test is avoiding the movie altogether. And anyone with half a brain, or a whole one not drenched in hormones should pass.