Feelgood romantic comedies are few and far between these days. The likes of The Big Sick, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl have done some good in rehabilitating the genre that seemed doomed to excessively long titles and typecasting Mathew McConaughey a decade ago. Their decline is understandable. How often can you watch two good looking white people kiss and make up? The Perfect Date shows how romantic-comedies don’t have to be special to succeed they just have to hit the right beats in the right order.
Brooks Rattigan (Noah Centineo) is a high-school senior trying to earn enough money to pay for Yale. He is stuck in a dead end job with his best friend Murph (Odiseas Georgiadis) and living with his divorced, author turned teacher father Charles (Matt Walsh). When an opportunity to earn some money by dating the morose, stubborn and aloof Celia (Laura Marano) comes up Brooks jumps at the chance. This one-off experience gives Brooks the idea to set up an app for personalised dates with him.
Besides its technological gimmick there’s not much originality to The Perfect Date. But there doesn’t have to be. At 90 minutes the film never outstays its welcome and in this agreeable runtime is everything you can expect from a modern romantic comedy. There are two good-looking leads in Centineo and Marano. There’s a date montage set to The Killers. There’s enough gloopy, syrupy schmaltz to satisfy romantic-comedy connoisseurs.
The Perfect Date suffers from the same problems most romantic comedies do these days. More diverse, more interesting stories like Murph’s gay romance and the class distinctions between Brooks and Celia are pushed to the margins in favour of seeing two good looking white people kiss. Still there’s nothing actively malicious or insidious about this. Netflix offers an incredibly diverse platform that few other studios or services do so this white bread story is perfectly fine. It’s not as up its own ass as 500 Days of Summer was.
The long-lasting effects of 500 Days of Summer are pretty much gone nowadays. I don’t hate 500 Days of Summer but it’s characters left a lot to be desired and it’s good to see a movie with a male lead who learns from his mistakes rather than wallowing in self-pity before moving on to the next seasonal themed girl. Visually however 500 Days of Summer’s impact remains. The Perfect Date is lit in that constantly sunny way with soft lighting that does wonders for Centineo’s perfect not-quite bedhead hair, flawless glowing teeth and male-model-with-a-personality face. God I wish that were me.
The Perfect Date will upset no one and it will please anyone with 90 minutes to invest. The performances are all sound in a very sardonic sort of way. Even the indie-pop soundtrack is guaranteed to evoke the endless summer feeling The Perfect Date conjures up. If nothing else this film seals Noah Centineo’s fate as the romantic comedy heavyweight for the next three decades at least.