Netflix has been rolling out teenage romantic comedies based off of books lately that have taken social media by storm, such as “Kissing Booth” and “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.” Their most recent teen flick, “The Perfect Date,” premiered on April 12, produced by AwesomenessFilms.
“The Perfect Date” is inspired by the 2016 novel “The Stand-In” by author Steve Bloom. The plot follows a senior in high school, Brooks Rattigan, whose ultimate goal in life is to attend the Ivy League university Yale. Desperate to save up money to pay for college, he accepts an offer to take a school mate’s cousin to a formal dance for pay. Once he realizes that he has the potential to escort girls in need of dates as an occupation, he teams up with his technologically keen best friend to create an app that allows women to hire his dating services.
The cast of the film has multiple familiar faces, with Noah Centineo starring as Brooks. He has become recently popular for romantic coming-of-age flicks. After he filled in for the character of Jesus on Freeform’s drama series “The Fosters,” he was cast in multiple movies. Now he is known for playing the boyish love interest, as shown through his roles in “Sierra Burgess Is A Loser” and “SPF-18.” Laura Marano plays a goofy love interest named Celia Lieberman. Morano is no stranger to the teenage film scene as the former star of Disney Channel’s musical comedy show “Austin and Ally.”
The progression of “The Perfect Date” had a superficial tinge to it with a Nickelodeon movie type vibe as it toggled between having adult themes and playful humor. The character development is somewhat weak as I found myself not feeling connections with the characters as easily as I have in romantic films such as Netflix’s “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.” It seems like things happen a bit too easily for Brooks as he receives tens of willingly paying customers overnight with an app that was perfectly crafted for him. Additionally, one of the love interests (Camila Mendes, “Riverdale”) seemed too perfectly placed and entirely one dimensional as the rich, pretty, popular girl with her entire future meticulously planned out.
Although the execution of the movie wasn’t ideal, there were important messages in the film. As Brooks finds himself obsessing over his reputation and status, he realizes that he has lost himself in the process. Dressing up as the ideal date for random girls and channeling made-up personas forces him to take a look at his own true personality and goals. There are some important critiques of classism between the lines of the script along with an emphasis on the value of friendship and family.
If you’re looking for a movie to play in the background of a hangout session on a chill night, this is something to watch. But if you want to be fully entertained, I wouldn’t recommend it. Hopefully Centineo shines in his upcoming movies “Charlie’s Angels” and the sequel to “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.”