Netflix’s new movie, The Perfect Date (2019), features its highly-utilized heartthrob Noah Centineo as Brooks Rattigan, a senior in high school who has sky-high dreams, which is nothing new in terms of teen movie protagonists. He wants a fancy car, a hot girlfriend, and admission to a prestigious university. The movie’s plot tracks his journey after he starts using an app that his friend designs through which he offers himself up as a friendly escort to any and all services.
Essentially the movie goes as follows: Boy meets girl (henceforth known as girl number 1) and they build a sarcastic, yet cute bond. Boy goes after a different girl (girl number 2) because he is blind to his connection with girl number 1. Girl number 1 gets mad and spiteful, and drama ensues. Meanwhile, boy gets in a fight with his best friend. Boy ultimately shares an earth-shattering kiss with girl number 1, and him and his best friend make up. The point here is that while this summary does apply to The Perfect Date, it could also explain the plots of every John Hughes film and most Netflix original young adult movies. This story is obviously something that appeals to audiences because Netflix keeps making these romcoms. While they may not be Oscar-worthy, they’re not too bad either. They’re good for a snuggly night in, when you want to watch teens make mistakes, fall in love, and have a happily ever after. But unfortunately, the movies do not present a version of life that is most teens’ reality.
We both couldn’t help but spend most of the 90ish minutes we devoted to watching The Perfect Date comparing it to two recent Netflix young adult romcoms: Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (2018) and To All the Boys I’ve Loved (2018). Ultimately, it seemed like The Perfect Date was more bearable to watch than Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. Mainly, we appreciated the fact that there were no creepy closed eye kiss scenes. The two movies are similar in the fact that each features a girl who is an outcast (Sierra Burgess vs. Celia). As much as it is great that Netflix is showing “different” personas in their movies, the fact that an overweight teen girl and a girl who isn’t “girly” are considered outcasts is slightly infuriating to us.
Speaking of Celia, she is played by Laura Marano (tbt to Austin and Ally), and it is quite clear that Ally grew up. At first, it seemed like she was going to be annoying, but her character ends up actually being pretty relatable. Celia’s spunk and “don’t give two shits” kinda attitude is refreshing to see. Another character that really stuck out was Camila Mendes’ character, Shelby, and not for a good reason. So many questions surround the purpose of Shelby in the movie: why is she checking Brooks out when she sees that he is with Celia? Why does she think it’s a good idea to kiss him LITERALLY RIGHT AFTER Celia and Brooks “break up?!” No wonder Brooks finds out he has nothing in common with Shelby!
Moving on to Brooks, his character was actually pretty similar to Centineo’s character in TATBILB, Peter Kavinsky. Brook’s and Peter’s personas both have a certain cluelessness that is so frustrating, not to mention both are annoyingly arrogant. Brooks never appreciated his father’s efforts to connect, who we never really got to see, and for that reason I couldn’t understand why Brooks was so dismissive towards him. If he was playfully teasing his dad, it wasn’t quite clear. He often criticized his father that shocked us—who speaks to their parents that way? What really got us was how ungrateful Brooks seemed. He just expected everything to go his way. The interview with the Dean of Admissions was just mind-bogglingly frustrating! In what universe is it okay to lie to an adult who is in a position to give you what you want? Because of these not-so-nice qualities, Brooks is not someone that you’d realistically feel attracted to in real life. Is he sweet? Ehh. Charming? Yes, but to an obvious fault. One difference between Brooks’ character and Peter was that Brook acknowledged his flaws at the end of The Perfect Date. There was definitely some character growth that we don’t really see in Peter.
Netflix made many interesting choices for the supporting characters. Franklin (Blaine Kern), who plays Celia’s initial love interest, has nothing much to make him interesting. We all knew that the whole affair would soon die (and the joke about the anonymous graffiti artist would lead somewhere). Franklin honestly became irrelevant pretty quickly, so there isn’t too much to break down about him.
One supporting character who really broke me was Murph (Odiseas Georgiadis). Just like Sierra Burgess is a Loser exploited young women struggling with weight, it seems like Netflix exploited Murph’s character. For those who haven’t seen the movie, Murph is one of the few black characters featured in the film. It felt like Netflix bluntly threw him in the film to say, “Hey, we remember that people who aren’t white also exist.” That may be harsh to say, but Murph seems like a token character more than anything else. His storyline is predictable, and he seems like just a sideshow to Brooks’s overwhelming persona. Even he calls out his lack of appearance in Brooks’s life during the movie. He got a happy ending, which was what he deserved!
On a happier note, there were things from The Perfect Date that we really gushed over. The University admissions letter Brooks gives Celia at the end of the film was pretty cute. We love a boy who has a way with words! Although it did make us crazy that every time Brooks wrote his college essay, he started with “My name is Brooks Rattigan.” Hey, Brooks…we already know that. Regardless, the college essay theme was very relatable (especially for upperclassmen in high school). It did, though, smell suspiciously like a play off of The Spectacular Now (2013). Overall, The Perfect Date was predictable but pleasant to watch. While we half thought of turning it off midway through, we kept watching anyway. Do we dream of finding our own Brooks or Peter Kavinsky one day? Yes, which is why we will keep finding ourselves watching these Netflix films. Sometimes a break from reality is much needed! So thank you, Netflix, but…next?