What happens when To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before meets Mean Girls?

The Perfect Date happens.

Netflix is back with the much-loved teen crush Noah Centineo, and this time, the team-up is a mix of all things we’ve seen before, and then some more.

The story revolves around Brooks Rattigan (Centineo), a talented high school senior with pretty damn good SATs, with a fascination of enjoying all the good things in life – own a fancy car, date a popular girl, and the biggest dream of ‘em all, to study at Yale. His problem? He belongs to a middle-class family and his father (Matt Walsh), once a well-known author, currently can’t afford his education fee.

After a chance ‘paid date’ with the seemingly wealthy and sarcastic, but ultimately all heart Celia Lieberman (Laura Marano), our boy gets the idea that he was waiting for. And so, he ends up creating an app with his best friend Murph (Odiseas Georgiadis), The Stand-in, where he goes as a fake date with several students of his age, giving them a customised perfect date experience for some cash. It becomes an instant hit, and the moolah starts ringing in. In the middle of it all, he finds himself attracted to the rich, smart and picture-perfect Shelby Pace (Camila Mendes).

So, does everything go as planned? Like every other romantic comedy that we’ve seen and loved, not so much.

Storyline: There’s nothing new in the story, to be honest. It’s another case of deja vu and been there and done that. Nothing you won’t see coming. But then again, with rom-coms and Netflix, it all becomes redeemable after a point. It’s a breezy romance and despite knowing what’ll happen next, you’ll keep watching it because a) it’s short, just an hour and a half long, and b) Marana aka Celia is amazing. It’s so good to see a character so independent, sarcastic and real, refusing to budge under any circumstance and so delightfully — and rightfully — headstrong.

Performances: While Marano’s Celia stands out, the performances in the film, in general, are quite nice. Riverdale fame Mendes is in a short but nicely written role as the sorted Shelby, looked upon as the shallow rich girl, but is actually a cracker of a woman who knows exactly what she wants and deserves. Walsh is endearing in his performance as a struggling single father trying to cope with all the changes in his life. And last, but certainly not the least, Centineo is charming as the ambitious, self-centred and conflicted Brooks. He manages to add a likability quotient to a character who has nice qualities of his own but downright wants to be someone else all the time.

What the film lacks, other than an overused script formula, is depth, especially in Brooks’ character. The change of heart happens all too suddenly, and the scene that follows with Celia at the prom could have been mortifying had it not been for the writers, who thankfully did justice to her character there. An anti-climactic interaction with one of Brooks’ elderly clients that was supposed to mark a very important lesson for him – and pull a heartstring or two for the viewers – goes completely flat in terms of impact.

However, what makes the film watchable are the performances and the overall light, feel-good presentation. It’s a happy, one-time watch kind of a rom-com that is definitely good for weekend viewing. 3 chirps for this one, and yes, extra claps just for the female characters.


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