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Terrence J. stars as Charlie, a playboy who's convinced that relationships are dead. His two best friends, Donald Faison and Robert C. Riley, bet him that if he sticks to one woman for one month, he's bound to get attached. Charlie denies this until he crosses paths with the beautiful and mysterious Eva, played by singer/actress Cassie. They may agree to a casual affair, but eventually Charlie is questioning whether he may actually want more.
"The Perfect Match" should've done better matching its first half with the quality of its second half.
It begins and ends with the letter grade. The grade I ultimately give a movie, emblazoned as a graphic on the movie poster, is the first thing people see when they come across one of my reviews on the internet – and it's almost always the last thing at the end of my written reviews. I make mental notes for my review as I'm watching a film, but the grade is something else altogether. It's like a bottle in the ocean, bobbing up and down, and carried by the tide, before eventually coming to rest on some beach where it will remain, unchanging and unmoved, for all to see. (Unless, of course, some knucklehead runs off with it or breaks it and ruins my whole analogy.) Usually that grade, once it starts to become visible about 1/3 of the way through a movie, stays roughly in the same area and eventually lands not far from where it started. But sometimes, that grade first comes into view at a very low tide and then a rather large wave lifts it surprisingly high until it settles onto some sort of middle ground – probably between a rock and a hard place. That was what happened when I saw the romantic comedy "The Perfect Match" (R, 1:36).
Charlie (Terrence Jenkins, or Terrence J, as he's better known) is a successful celebrity agent, he's handsome and, closing in on his 30th birthday, has everything he's ever wanted – in his words, "making money, driving a fast car and hooking up with models," – with special emphasis on that last one. You see, Charlie, by his own admission, doesn't "do relationships" and he doesn't feel like he's missing anything. Those who know him best would beg to differ. His older sister, Sherry (Paula Patton), who happens to be a therapist, worries that Charlie's emotionally closed off. His best friends, Rick (Donald Faison), who is working on having a baby with his wife, Pressie (Dascha Polanco), and Victor (Robert Christopher Riley), who is planning a long-awaited wedding to his childhood sweetheart, Ginger (Lauren London), both have mad respect for his skills with the ladies, but think it's time for him to settle down. Even though they're just asking him to try it, Charlie isn't happy with his friends trying to cramp his style.
Charlie is tired of his friends dogging him, so he agrees to a bet with them. He'll date one single woman – exclusively – until Victor's wedding (about a month away) to prove to Rick and Victor that he won't get attached, doesn't need to be attached and is perfectly alright remaining detached. Enter Eva (Cassie Ventura). She actually overheard Charlie talking over this bet with his friends and isn't sure that Charlie is her type, but just like Charlie has never been in a long-term relationship, Eva has never been in a short-term one and she says she wants to try something new. Charlie and Eva agree to some no-strings-attached fun and begin spending a lot of time together. Of course, since this a romantic comedy, one of them develops feelings for the other. And, because this is a romantic comedy, you may think you know how this story ends. I'd suggest that you slow your roll. Whatever you're assuming is probably wrong.
By the way, this movie is more than "just" a romantic comedy. In terms of character development, we also see a good bit of Charlie at work. (Remember the first two of those things he said he always wanted? Well, this is where they come in.) Charlie isn't just "an" agent – he's the most valuable agent at his company. Working for the jaded Marty (Joe Pantoliano) and with the obnoxious Abram (Beau Casper Smart) and Charlie's nerdy assistant, Kareem (Steven Daniel Brun), Charlie shows that he's great at what he does. We see him interacting with clients such as Timothy DeLaGhetto (as himself) and "Avatia" (Brandy Norwood), in a short but funny scene accompanied by her assistant, Karen (Kali Hawk). Charlie's main focus is trying to sign French Montana (as himself) to a deal that'll benefit him, Charlie's firm and some other parties as well. Then, just as Charlie's attitudes toward romance and other personal issues look like they might be changing, so might his attitude towards his job and his avocation of photography.
"The Perfect Match" has a pretty bad first half, but a very good second half. For about half of the movie, the acting is suspect, the dialog is boring, the plot points feel forced and there is nary a laugh in this romantic comedy. After the story really gets going, however, the performances seem better, the conversations feel more authentic, the story offers some interesting twists and genuine surprises and the humor ebbs and flows much better. If I were grading the movie in segments, I'd probably give the first half a "C-" and the second half a "B+". But, evaluating an entire movie, my grade ends up somewhere in between, but giving slightly more credit to the movie for actually taking us someplace entertaining, in spite of its slow and uninspired start. In the end, caught between a rock and a hard place on this one, I'm giving the overall movie my barest of recommendations – with a suggestion that if you joined the film about 30-40 minutes into the action, you might actually enjoy it more as a whole. "B-"
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