The Perfect Date: Netflix’s Not-So-Perfect Rom Com

On April 12th, Netflix released The Perfect Date, the latest in its recent string of rom-coms targeted at teenage girls. The Netflix original stars Noah Centineo, who became every young girl’s crush after playing Peter Kavinsky in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. The movie also stars Camila Mendes, who plays Veronica Lodge on Riverdale, and Laura Marano from Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally.

The teenage crowd will be drawn to the movie because of the cast, but sadly the flick doesn’t have much else to offer. Before watching The Perfect Date, I thought it had a cute albeit cheesy premise. Noah Centineo plays Brooks Rattigan, a high school senior who creates an app that allows women to hire him as a stand-in date for any occasion and choose his personality. But the final product fell short of my expectations.

The main component of the plot – being a stranger’s fake date – was barely part of the movie. Only a couple of Brooks’ dates were shown, and those scenes were brief. I can understand that the movie is focused on Brooks’ relationship with his father and his friends, and his efforts to get into Yale, but I think the stand-in boyfriend element was underutilized.

The only part that made me laugh was a rare scene showing Brooks on one of his dates. The girl who hires him wants him to act like a douchebag in front of her parents, so Brooks shows up in sagging pants and announces that he needs to “take the Browns to the Superbowl” at the dinner table. There should have been more scenes like this. Instead, the movie was filled with relatively boring conversations and characters.

Another aspect of the film that didn’t click was the standard rich-versus-poor divide. Brooks repeatedly refers to himself as “the poor kid from Bridgeport” and laments that he’ll never fit in with the rich kids. While this financial theme has worked for other films, like the 80’s classic Pretty in Pink, it just feels forced and nonsensical in The Perfect Date.

Brooks lives in a relatively small one-story house, but the interior looks modern and fancy, and it’s nothing that any wealthy person would balk at. He also feels insecure that one of his peers drives a shiny sports car, while he drives a dusty older car that needs a few repairs. The stark contrast was probably meant to evoke sympathy from the viewers, but it doesn’t work. Plenty of high school kids drive shoddy cars in high school, and the truly poor kids don’t have their own car to begin with.

I could let that slide if it was only a minor part of the story, but Brooks’ financial insecurities are one of the movie’s main themes. His constant mantra of “I’m just a poor kid, no one will ever accept me” felt canned. Typically, real high school students don’t openly ridicule someone for being “poor.”

What’s interesting is that Noah Centineo has played a fake boyfriend in another movie. In To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, his character Peter poses as Lara Jean’s boyfriend, and of course Peter and Lara Jean catch some real feelings along the way. So if you want to get your Noah Centineo fix, just watch that. The Perfect Date is far less memorable, and the romantic chemistry isn’t strong. Because of its popular actors, The Perfect Date will still rack up a lot of views, but it’s a disappointing and forgettable turn for the cute cast.