Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect, directed by Glenn Gordon Caron, is a nicely crafted
picture calculated to warm whatever organ it is that serves advertising
executives in the office of a heart. Jennifer Aniston stars as Kate, a young and
ambitious specimen of that breed whose hopes of love seem to rise no higher than
bedding, in a free moment, the office Lothario, Sam (Kevin Bacon). To give you
an idea of what a slimeball this gentleman is, I may remark that he thinks of
Kate as “too
nice” for him.
“I can be
bad,” she says pathetically.
Unfortunately, she cannot be really bad but only boringly
self-centered—like her boss (Kevin Dunn) and her best friend, Darcy
(Ileana Douglas). At one point near the beginning Darcy exults in the riches
that both she and Kate hope for from their careers in advertising:
shallow!” she cries.

That about sums it up. The boss explains to her that her further advancement
in the business will depend on her giving such hostages to fortune as a
husband, kids, or large house or car payments, so that she will have to stop
living like a college kid, free to jump to another firm. So Darcy invents a
fiancé for Kate who is manufactured out of a young man, Nick (Jay Mohr)
whom she has met once at a wedding. Well, the predictable
happens—“It sounds like
something out of ‘The Patty Duke
it?” as Kate rightly says to
Nick—and Nick must be made to pretend to be her fiancé in good
earnest. Of course, he turns out to be a nice guy, even beyond what advertising
executives might consider as such. The existence of this suppositious
fiancé suddenly makes Kate attractive to Sam, but the ending is equally

That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but I am afraid that
Nick’s goodness, genuine though it may
be (it is rather too easy that he is made a hero who rescues a little girl from
a burning building), is not in itself enough to offset the utter
unattractiveness of the other characters, who include Olympia Dukakis as
Kate’s cliché mother, Rita, who
wants her to get married and have babies. He goes along with all the elaborate
ruses of this heartless woman to deceive her bosses, yet at the same time falls
in love with her, while she is so obtuse as not to realize his qualities until
he finds a rather artificial way to penetrate her façade of cold-hearted
ambition. The story is told with real skill and with occasional flashes of wit,
but at the end of it, instead of rejoicing at the
lovers’ reunion, we cannot help
feeling sorry for Nick.

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