The Perfect Score: Doug Curran
Owen Gleiberman
January 28, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Perfect Score

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
Wide Release Date
01/30/04
performer
Erika Christensen, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew Lillard, Darius Miles
director
Brian Robbins
distributor
Paramount Pictures
author
Marc Hyman
genre
Drama, Mystery and Thriller, Comedy

We gave it a D

The high school seniors who band together in The Perfect Score to pilfer the answers to the SAT test are brimming with rationalizations. The pesky college-entrance exam, they complain, reduces students to a standardized mass; it’s racist and sexist; the dorks who score highest on it don’t turn out to be life’s biggest achievers anyway. Besides, it’s a victimless crime! This last point is demonstrably untrue (if you score better than you deserve, you’re going to fill someone’s academic slot), but the movie, which strains to be hip in a faux-1985 beat-the-system way, takes such a light view of cheating that it has the ironic effect of rendering the heist that follows utterly innocuous.

The characters sneak behind gleaming silver windows and hack into a computer, but they might just as well be stealing a cache of Dave Matthews tickets or a crate of Windex. ”The Perfect Score” is like ”The Breakfast Club” recast as a videogame for simpletons. In addition to the bland hero (Chris Evans) and his even blander friend (Bryan Greenberg), the thieves include Erika Christensen as an insecure overachiever and Leonardo Nam as an infantile stoned computer genius with a highly overactive tongue. They hatch their plan, they screw up, they hook up, they learn the value of honesty. The one performer who escapes the banality of it all is Scarlett Johansson, who takes on the cliché role of the ”edgy” girl and makes it sparkle and glow. When she’s on screen, even bitch-crack superiority is luminous.

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