As funny and smart as it is, "Picture Perfect" has its imperfections.
Like so many recent romantic comedies, it tries to capture the clever charm of "When Harry Met Sally " and doesn't quite cut it. Though it's sexy and witty in spurts, lapses in logic make its utterly predictable ending implausible. Cute, but implausible.
Jennifer Aniston of "Friends" carries her first starring film role well. She plays Kate, a creative up-and-comer at a Manhattan ad agency whose career, in the eyes of her boss, is hampered only by her singledom. Her overbearing mom (the delightful Olympia Dukakis) isn't too crazy about her lack of a serious amour either.
So when Kate's agency pal Darcy (Illeana Douglas) invents a fiance for Kate, based on a picture taken at a wedding with a sweet videographer (Jay Mohr), Kate goes along with the scheme. Her boss is happy. Her mom is happy. Even her Don Juan colleague Sam (Kevin Bacon), who wouldn't give Kate a second look, is drawn to her "bad girl" unavailability.
The scheme is solid until Kate actually has to produce her paramour. Enter Nick the videographer, who's so honest he can't possibly fit into Kate's fake new lifestyle. Kate, you see, has turned into a jerk. She lies to everyone and is rewarded for it.
Why Nick still likes her and goes along with her deception -- despite his half-hearted objections -- is a little puzzling. Sure, Kate is gorgeous. Even Tarzan would be shocked at how short her dresses are. But if she has finer qualities, they aren't evident. Is her sincere suitor really that pathetic? Their chemistry is thin, and the script doesn't go deeper to explain why Nick is enamored of this stranger who treats him so callously.
Of course, Kate comes to her senses, and we all know what happens next. As the story unfolds, there are some very funny lines, and the performances are all winning. If you want nothing more ambitious than to revisit the formula, "Picture Perfect" is almost perfect.
Starring Jennifer Aniston, Jay Mohr and Kevin Bacon
Directed by Glenn Gordon Caron
Released by 20th Century Fox
Rated PG-13 (language, sexual situations)
Sun score: ** 1/2
Pub Date: 8/01/97