Agony of an Agony Aunt
"Lying to Be Perfect" is about 3 women who decide to tackle life by losing weight together with a "Cinderella Pact". Well Cinderella is a good name because a huge part of what "Lying to Be Perfect" is about is a Cinderella fairytale surrounding Nola who has an alter ego as an elusive super slim agony aunt. But this Cinderella fairytale is combined with almost a touch of the "Bridget Jones" as Nola and her friends set about changing their lives via losing weight. Unfortunately not only is "Lying to Be Perfect" not as quick witted as a "Bridget Jones" movie but also lacks the imagination to really explore how losing weight can change peoples lives in both a positive and negative way.
As assistant editor of a fashion mag Nola Devlin (Poppy Montgomery) is fed up of people passing judgements on her because she is over weight. It is why 6 months earlier when she tried to get a job doing an agony aunt column and was passed over because of her weight she came up with an alter ago, the super slim and super sexy Belinda. Little did Nola realise that the advice she secretly dishes out as Belinda would become so popular that the magazine would turn her responses into a book, a book which they expect the fictitious Belinda to promote. At the same time Nola meets Chip (Adam Kaufman), who she meets at work and they start dating, plus along with her friends Nancy (Chelah Horsdal) and Deb (Audrey Wasilewski) vow to lose weight through a "Cinderella Pact" leading to plenty of stress and changes in Nola's life.
So "Lying to Be Perfect" is basically a couple of ideas which interweave, we have the story of 3 slightly large women deciding to be proactive and lose weight combined with Nola who due to being knocked back 6 months earlier due to her weight has an alter ego in the super slim and sexy agony aunt Belinda which leads to difficulties when she meets a man she calls Chip. Now it is not a bad set up if a little obvious because once we have Nola and her friends losing weight we know she will end up transforming herself into her alter ego. And when she also meets Chip she will end up falling for him even though after the meet cute he is not as he seems, don't worry nothing sinister about who he really is. As such on one hand you can guess that by the end of the movie Nola will have to own up to be being Belinda, have an up and down romance with Chip but also stick it to those who belittled her when she was over weight. It may sound like I have told you the whole movie but in reality only the very obvious side which throws up no surprises despite throwing in twists.
But then there is the other side of "Lying to Be Perfect" which is about these 3 friends and their Cinderella pact to lose weight and this is sadly where an opportunity is missed. Each of Nola's friends have reasons why they have ended up fat, Nancy was tired of sexual harassment when she first started working and so piled on the weight to stop it while Deb is in a loveless marriage. But as they lose weight the pay off to how it really changes them never surfaces, oh we see Nancy having the courage to stand up to her boss whilst Debs faces the fact that her marriage is over but these are brief scenes in a bigger movie. Even the element of Debs struggling to lose weight and deciding to have surgery is underplayed which is shame as there is real opportunity to explore the emotional impact of such a decision but in a light hearted manner. As such the whole weight loss aspect ends up a sadly wasted opportunity to make this Cinderella story have real meaning whilst still being the fairytale romance.
A knock on effect of this wasted opportunity is that "Lying to Be Perfect" fails to really deliver anything almost floating along with a need for tone. What I mean is the humour of the three friends vowing to lose weight doesn't have any big laugh moments, and the relationship which forms between Nola and Chip is not that romantic. It makes it all very middling, pleasant but aimless which also means for the most it is forgettable.
About the only thing which isn't forgettable about "Lying to Be Perfect" is seeing Poppy Montgomery in a fat suit because it is not believable, in fact it looks plainly weird when you have this slim attractive face on top of a larger body and baggy clothes. It also means that when she makes the transformation from large woman to slim beauty it doesn't really have the same effect as if she had looked believably fat. And sadly that is as memorable as it gets because Adam Kaufman as Chip, Chelah Horsdal as Nancy and Audrey Wasilewski as Deb are all flat characters.
What this all boils down to is that "Lying to Be Perfect" is pleasant enough but only really a meaningless distraction if you want to waste 90 minutes. It's not very romantic or very funny and misses an opportunity to deliver a look at the implications of losing weight.