[box cover]

The Perfect Score

For many, the most dreaded aspect of a college application isn't one's grade point average or how many extracurricular activities one has on one's resume, but the Scholastic Aptitude Test — one of the most important elements of any application, it's the only one that relies solely on a multiple-choice test, which can guarantee one's future. The idea of that pressure must have led to 2004's The Perfect Score. It's a high-concept teen flick (one imagines the pitch-meeting as "Ocean's 11 meets The Breakfast Club") that introduces six students who are so desperate that they plan to — heist-style — steal the all the answers to guarantee their futures. For Kyle (Chris Evans), his dream of going to the right college is hanging in the balance, and for his best friend Matty (Bryan Greenberg), it means going to school with his sweetheart. Anna Ross (Erika Christensen) took the test previously and blanked out during one of the math questions, and she holds her second-place academic rank in enough regard to see what the boys can do, while Francesca (Scarlett Johansson) is doing it because she believes standardized testing is not a fair assessment of students. Desmond (Darius Miles) is a sports superstar, but he's been floating along in school and hasn't been pressed to study too hard, so he needs to get a minimal score to get into a college, which his mom is forcing him to, and Roy (Leonardo Lam) is a stoner who's so amused by the whole premise that he goes along for the fun of it. A painless teenaged riff on the heist genre, as directed by Brian Robbins (Varsity Blues, Hard Ball) The Perfect Score is never particularly offensive or bad, just routine in ways that betray the politically correct intentions of the filmmakers. The characters are affable, and their heist is successful, but when it comes time to actually use their stolen talents, all but one balk. Though the group is racially diverse, it's the white leads that pair up into relationships, while the minority characters (Desmond and Roy) get no such hook-ups. And perhaps most instructionally, though the film bad-mouths standardized testing, in the end all take the test and do well enough on it that their futures are guaranteed, undermining the first-act harangues about testing. That said, the cast is fine, with Johansson the stand-out in that "must have signed on for this/shot it before Lost in Translation came out" way, while Lam steals the show as the comic relief character who's counted on to say both the dumbest and smartest things of the group. Paramount presents The Perfect Score in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include a commentary by director Brian Robbins and scenarist Mark Schwahn, a "making-of" featurette (21 min.), the theatrical trailer, and bonus trailers. Keep-case.

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