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The Perfect Score


The Perfect Score


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Occasionally, a film is so thinly conceived that it's hard to avoid reconstructing the pitch meeting while watching it. For The Perfect Score, it probably went like this: "It's Ocean's Eleven meets The Breakfast Club!" And it is, only it swaps The Breakfast Club's indelible high-school stereotypes for fourth-generation copies and replaces Ocean's Eleven's precision-timed casino heist with a bunch of kids lurking around a nondescript office building. Dreading their last chance at getting a good score on the SATs, the teenagers band together to steal the answers, under the leadership of Bryan Greenberg and Chris Evans. One of them has to score high enough to join his girlfriend at the University of Maryland, while the other needs to attend Cornell to become a great architect; good luck remembering which is which. They're joined by four others: an honor-roll regular who chokes during tests (Erika Christensen, still looking for a memorable part after Traffic), the pissed-off daughter of an SAT bigwig (Scarlett Johansson, looking bored), NBA player Darius Miles (emulating the stiff-necked line-readings of Michael Jordan's TV ads), and, in an apparent attempt to deflate cultural stereotypes, Leonardo Nam as an underachieving Asian stoner (who, to be fair, later proves to have excellent math and computer skills). Soon, the scam is on. And on, and on, and on, as the film drags out its convoluted heist across several reels, leaving viewers plenty of time to contemplate the unaddressed question of whether memorizing a sequence of hundreds of answers will be any easier than scoring well through the more conventional means of hard work and preparation. Attempts at high spirits and the presence of Matthew Lillard all suggest that this is supposed to be a comedy, but it's hard to recover from an opening gag in which a character decides that SAT stands for "Suck-Ass Test." Here's another acronym to contemplate: SAM.