Pleasant enough, if not paper-thin and featherweight, The Perfect Match is a bland picture starring attractive people that never quite seems to connect the dots. The romance at the core of the story is between Charlie (Terrence Jenkins), an agent with an incredible home, and Eva (Cassie Ventura, perhaps best known as R&B singer Cassie who had a hit single Me & U a few years ago), a gorgeous women of little substance — although we learn she does like House of Cards. At one point in their friends with benefits arrangement, director Billie Woodruff (Honey, Addicted) makes his point with a montage scored to current radio hit Player by Tinashe, in one of the many moments that feel a little too on the nose.
With an uneven ensemble, The Perfect Match attempts to add context to Charlie’s life: his sister Sherry (Paula Patton) is conveniently a therapist who offers insight into their childhood (tying Charlie’s fear of intimacy to the death of their parents). She allows Charlie to land a client of her’s (rapper French Montana, playing himself), yet the artist never quite has the comic payoff we hope for, even if provides a Jerry Maguire moment for Charlie and his crew at work.
Charlie instead takes up photography, finding a reemergence of his adolescence in his relationship with Eva, all while his friends are in seriously committed relationships. They provide some comic relief, including Victor (Robert Christopher Riley) planning his wedding to Ginger (Lauren London). Meanwhile, his pal Rick (Donald Faison) is forced into a fertility clinic after his wife Pressie (Dascha Polanco) hasn’t had any luck conceiving.
The Perfect Match offers us the kind of cheesy hot and steamy “romance” montages that seemed to pass into parody once Tommy Wiseau ruined them for all of mankind in The Room. On one hand, the picture is somewhat of a throwback to the kind of African-American-centric romantic comedies that launched the careers of Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union, and Gary Hardwick (a co-writer here), focusing on often Los Angeles- or Atlanta-centered professional, educated African-Americans navigating love while managing a work/life balance. The Perfect Match, unlike Hardwick’s The Brothers and Deliver Us From Eva, seems to lack the joy, insight and big laughs of those two pictures.
Neatly wrapping it all up in a bow, right down to big reveals and reconciliations, The Perfect Match offers not nearly enough twists on a tired formula. While the sexy production and costume design evokes an aspirational lifestyle, the thin character development keep the film from taking off. The Perfect Match won’t exactly insult your intelligence, but it did make me wish that Hardwick would revisit The Brothers in the form of a sequel like The Best Man enjoyed a few years ago.
The Perfect Match is now playing in theaters nationwide.