Picture Perfect

on August 01, 1997 by Susan Lambert
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   Jennifer Aniston ("She's the One") stars in this slight and contrived romantic comedy as Kate, an ambitious advertising executive who in order to "dress the part" lets her bosses believe she is engaged to a random man in a photo, Nick ("Jerry Maguire's" Jay Mohr), that she met only briefly at a friend's wedding. The fictitional fiance not only wins her a promotion but sparks her personal life with the nefarious office womanizer, Sam ("Sleepers'" Kevin Bacon), who suddenly finds himself interested in the now-engaged Kate. But, when Kate's bosses want to meet her fiance, Kate persuades Nick to help her out of her predicament. Nick, who's been looking for an excuse to see Kate again, is glad to oblige, even to the point of public embarrassment.
   The actors share few cute moments and try to make the most of obvious situations. Olympia Dukakis ("Mr. Holland's Opus") is wasted as Kate's mom; all her scenes are played to a high-pitched, one-note overbearing whine. The script has interesting comments to make about the expectations people place on love, marriage and commitment, but it fails to follow through; its structure disintegrates just at the point when it should take off, when Kate faces actually wanting to be with Nick, now against the wishes of her bosses.
   Of course, the problem here as with most romantic comedies is that there is very little to draw these two people together. Particularly, Nick has many more reasons to dislike Kate than to like her. Given our culture's desperation for simple true-love stories, it's easy to forgive these movies--given enough funny sidekicks, interesting situations and clever lines--as long as the ending doesn't drop the ball. Which is what "Picture Perfect" does, especially when the filmmakers decide to separate the film's climax--where our plucky heroine has to admit her mistakes in public, throw caution to the wind and grovel for her man--into two ineffective, truncated scenes. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Bacon, Jay Mohr and Illeana Douglas. Directed by Glenn Gordon Caron. Written by Arlene Sorkin, Paul Slansky and Glenn Gordon Caron. Produced by Erwin Stoff. A Fox release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for sensuality and related dialogue. Running time: 102 min
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