The Perfect Score (2004) starring Chris Evans, Bryan Greenberg, Scarlett Johansson, Leonardo Nam, Erika Christensen, Darius Miles, Matthew Lillard, Vanessa Angel directed by Brian Robbins Movie Review

The Perfect Score (2004)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Scarlett Johansson, Leonardo Nam and Chris Evans in The Perfect Score

Half Marks

On first glance "the Perfect Score" has something a little bit John Hughes about it, 6 diverse students learn something important through the time they spend together trying to steal the SAT answer papers. But trust me this is not a patch on a John Hughes movie and in fact what could have been an intelligent drama about teen choices and doing the right thing ends up a very dumb caper movie which tries to make us laugh but rarely gets close to it. It is simply a wasted opportunity and a waste of talent as whilst Scarlett Johansson stands out it's only because she is the only one who breathes life into a generic teen character, giving her attitude which is missing from all the others.

Ever since he built a model house of lollypop sticks Kyle (Chris Evans - Not Another Teen Movie) has dreamed of becoming an architect and now as a teen he wants nothing more than to go to Cornell to study architecture. But Kyle has a problem, his SAT score isn't good enough and there is no chance of him getting better in time to reset it. Kyle is not alone as his friend Mattie (Bryan Greenberg - Bride Wars) also needs a high SAT score to go to the college he wants. So together along with rebellious teen Francesca (Scarlett Johansson - Lost in Translation) and 3 others come up with a plan to break into the Princeton Testing Centre to steal the answers. But when it comes down to it will they choose to cheat or will they realise that something's are more important.

Bryan Greenberg as Matty Matthews in The Perfect Score

Now in all fairness SATs and GPA are alien concepts to me being a Brit and so whilst the set up introduces us to these 6 generic high school characters all of whom need to obtain a certain score the relevance of it probably doesn't have the same effect as for audiences in the States. The good thing is that you don't need to fully understand the mechanism of the SATs to understand "The Perfect Score" because it quickly becomes this crime caper as Kyle and his best friend Mattie decide the only way they can get a high enough score is to cheat and by cheat I mean steal the answer papers. And whilst we have Kyle and Mattie deciding stealing is better than studying we get introduced to what are really a bunch of high school stereotypes, the sporting kid whose not that bright, the over achiever with pushy parents, the rebel, the dope head they are basically all there.

Now the thing is that to try to appeal to teens "The Perfect Score" tries to be a crime caper full of jokes and mishaps. But sadly I can't think of a single intentional moment of comedy which made me laugh and much of the humour seems to be targeting younger audiences than the actual protagonists. It really smacks of desperation when in a scene where these 6 teenagers go through their plans to break in to a building that they have visions of how it is going to be and we get a seriously out of place moment of Matrix mimicry with Scarlet Johansson doing a Trinity.

But that is just part of the problem as throughout "The Perfect Score" we have elements of teenage retrospection as we learn about each of the characters from Francesca having a father who pays her no attention through to Anna having very pushy parents. But sadly it is both very cliche and also very forced and when it gets to the climax as they have to make the decision or not to cheat it becomes so moralistic that it is painful. It feels like it is trying to be John Hughes's "The Breakfast Club" as each of these characters make friends and grow up through their time together but lacks his masterful touch.

As for the acting well there is some talent in this movie both Chris Evans and Bryan Greenberg are good young actors yet they come across as painfully wooden because their characters are so under written. And that is a fault with all the characters with the exception of Francesca because Scarlet Johansson manages to breathe life into her. She maybe the stereotypical rebellious character but she is feisty and opinionated which makes her stand out against all the other 2 dimensional characters.

What this all boils down to is that "The Perfect Score" could have been a good movie but it wasn't. It's not that it is terrible just very forced and very forgettable as it tries to bring a touch of John Hughes teen drama to a new generation but never succeeds.