February 19, 2004

The Perfect Score

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As the first round of prelims approaches, we all hope for “the perfect score.” Well, you might not get it, but at least you can find it at the theater. I definitely understood the pain that the six characters in The Perfect Score went through, undergoing the terror of standardized testing.

The story follows the antics of a few desperate high-school seniors looking to secure spots in college by stealing the almighty SAT. Brian Robins, director of Varsity Blues, puts together another fairly entertaining teen movie. The timing of this release was perfect, as students across prepare for testing time.

Score may have slightly less than the perfect storyline, but a funny and interesting cast makes up for what the writing lacks. Basically, five newcomers and two current stars comprise the interesting team. The bait for movie-goers is the goofy teen-movie favorite Mathew Lillard , and the hot chick from the surprise hit Lost In Translation, Scarlet Johansson. She plays Francesca, a rich girl deprived of her father’s attention, who joins the scheme simply for the sake of rebellion. Lillard, on the other hand, has a secondary role as the loser brother of Kyle (Chris Evans), who is the head of the pack. This average guy has his heart set on a very familiar school of architecture. Why anyone would want to subject themself to the torture of Rand Hall, I don’t know, but apparently Kyle has wanted to attend CU since the age of seven. His sidekick, Matty (Bryan Greenberg), helps plan the crime in order to insure that he goes to U Maryland, where his girlfriend already studies. For some idiotic reason, the salutatorian, Anna (Erika Christensen), has her heart set on Brown. Stuck in a second-place world and constantly subjected to the pressure of her parents, Anna reluctantly joins the crew. Along with her goes the All-State Basketball superstar Desmond (Darius Miles). His aspirations to join the NBA can only be realized if he improves his skills in college, but he can’t get in without a 900. Rounding out the group is Roy (Leonardo Nam), the quintessential stoner. Roy brings the best comic relief in times of tension as the six teenagers come together on a mission that will either land them in jail or help them realize their dreams.

Beneath the mystery of whether or not they’ll nab the SATs, a romance is brewing and life lessons are being learned. Much to my surprise, the movie pretty much stayed away from the high school scene, as almost all the action took place off school grounds — Thank God! Who can really stand another Hollywood version of high school life, or college life for that matter?

Instead, it seemed like a fantasy that was created by a couple of fairly conscious recent college grads looking back at what could’ve — or maybe should’ve — been. I’m not sure if that accurately describes the screenwriters, but most likely the staff at MTV Films. In my opinion, The Perfect Score was entertaining enough to score just above par.

Archived article by Jonathon Hampton