Perfection, like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder. It’s a concept that Leah realizes a little too late in “The Perfect Guy,” a glossy, cliché-laden revenge thriller about the perils of meeting Mr. Too Good To Be True.
A successful lobbyist with a taste for Ketel One martinis and a sleek glass house nestled in the Hollywood Hills, Leah (Sanaa Lathan) would appear to have it all, save for a stalled relationship with a nice-guy architect, Dave (Morris Chestnut).
Feeling “dated out” at age 36, Leah’s ready to take things to the next level with a husband and children, but Dave’s not ready to commit, so she cuts him loose. Two months later, she encounters the dangerously handsome Carter (ridiculously charismatic Michael Ealy) in a café, and sparks immediately fly over their iced lattes.
Had Leah seen “Fatal Attraction” or even the more recent Jennifer Lopez clunker “The Boy Next Door,” she would have picked up on the telltale signs that Carter, a corporate security IT specialist, was not the dreamboat he appeared to be, even with that killer smile.
But rather than realize the charmer who drives a vintage black Charger is the sort of soft-spoken loner whom pets tend to growl at, Leah impulsively inducts him into the Boyfriend Hall of Fame, with unsurprising repercussions of the restraining order ilk.
She’s not the only one to rush things. Rather than allow suspicions of Carter’s true nature to build gradually to an ever-narrowing shadow of a doubt, director David M. Rosenthal, in his first studio assignment, dispenses with the element of tension and rushes headlong into the psychotic behavior.
Ealy, known for his more affable, easygoing turns in the “Think Like a Man” films and last year’s “About Last Night” remake, clearly relishes the opportunity to play a cool, calculating sociopath.
But it would have been more rewarding had the predictable script by Tyger Williams (1993’s “Menace II Society”) given him some grayer shadings to play in his rather abrupt shift from sweet-talker to stalker.
Likewise for Lathan, an actress whose ability to portray confidence and vulnerability simultaneously has clicked with audiences in “Love & Basketball” and the hit “Best Man” movies.
Here, viewers are never really given the chance to watch her exhibit any sort of crucial conflict as she makes the transition from refined professional to a take-charge woman in jeopardy.
The movie does look glossily appealing, with director Rosenthal and his cinematographer, Peter Simonite, capturing Los Angeles to classic sun-kissed, noir-tinged perfection.
And when it comes to notions of perfection, there’s no underestimating the crowd-pleasing effect of a couple of hours spent kicking back in AC in the middle of a nasty heat wave. Despite its serious imperfections, the soapy escapism provided by “The Perfect Guy” at least arrives at an opportune time.
“The Perfect Guy”
MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence, menace, sexuality, brief strong language
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Playing: In general release