Friday, April 06, 2007

An Elektra complex gone Oedipal

I’m not sure why I watched The Perfect Man, a movie clearly made for tween Disneyfied girls (I fail the potential audience test on all three counts). Perhaps it was one Tanqueray too many. Or maybe it was the way my wife snuggled up to me with an “aww” when she saw the beginnings of a beheno-maate flick play across the TV screen. But I’m glad I watched, because I was thoroughly entertained – and not in any way intentioned by the filmmaker.

A lame premise
The movie stars a thirty-something mom played by a somewhat jaded looking Heather Locklear (someone give that woman a comb!), mother to a sweetly chunky Hilary Duff, ostensibly playing someone tween Disneyfied girls aspire to be. Sex and the City’s Chris Noth shows up, looking rather like a bulldog with a buzzcut in a thankless role that requires acting-by-facial-ticks. And Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s Carson Kressley essays a stereotypical gay so painfully unfunny, that you cover your eyes as soon as he shows up.

Web 2.0 gets a play and saves the day
While these are solid basics for a guilty pleasure in the making, what really drew me in were the peripherally creepy setups in the movie, all centered on Internet technologies such as Blogging, Emails and Instant Messaging.


Locklear (let’s not bother with characters here) plays a woman who deals with heartbreak by moving out of town. Tired of being dragged around the country, Duff invents “a perfect man” to keep her mom engaged and in town long enough for her to take some root. She uses a friend’s uncle, played by Noth, as a sounding board for ideas and starts by leaving a planted orchid for her mom on their patio. Cue: romantic chimes for Locklear who is intrigued.

A wierd romance
She soon ratchets this up by creating a fake login id which she uses for IM chats with her mother. Locklear thinks she is conversing with her mystery prince while Duff, apparently unaware of the Elektra-with-an-Oedipal-twist vibe she is coasting on, engages with her full tilt. Loving IMs and emails are exchanged. While this is played out rather lightly in the movie (the conversations are never overtly romantic in nature), the implications threw me for a loop.

A bad idea!
Soon things begin to spiral a bit out of control. Duff sighs in exasperation to her friend “I knew this was a bad idea!” (No, you don’t say!) She then recruits a boyfriend-in-waiting (Ben Feldman) to break up with her Mom. When Feldman calls, Locklear breaks into a sob because she is, you know, so moved to finally hear the voice behind the digital presence. This throws Feldman for a loop. He happens to see a picture of Duff nearby and delivers a romantic soliloquy that Locklear thinks is directed to her. More weirdness ensues.

Were there some diabolical writers trying to subvert Disney by inserting a larger statement about the Internet, lack of identity and mythic Greeks inside all of us? We’ll probably never know – but you now know what to do if you’ve had one Tanqueray too many.

3 comments:

Beth said...

The "E" in email is for Elektra!

Dee said...

nice boobies!! Now why did I say that?;) Overload of gender warfare;)

Anonymous said...

I love Heather Locklear!