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Picture Perfect

**
1997

‘…a frustratingly cute rom-com which feels like it was made in a different, less techno-savvy era…’

Seeking solace from the BBC’s MournHub streaming service, my ongoing investigations into le cinema du Jennifer Aniston grind to a temporary halt with Picture Perfect, a frustratingly cute rom-com which feels like it was made in a different, less techno-savvy era. The story of a junior advertising executive in NYC who is working on a campaign to sell mustard, it’s one of the weaker Aniston vehicles, and despite a over-qualified supporting cast, it’s hardly up there with Cake or The Good Girl in the pantheon on classic Aniston product.

How’s this for a dated pitch? Aniston plays Kate, a singleton who wants to make it big but has hit a glass ceiling in her male-dominated workplace. Using one of these new fangled disposable cameras, she grabs a snap of her with Boston videographer Nick (Jay Mohr), and uses this as a means to persuade her workmates that she is in a relationship. Why does this work to her advantage? Because the men in Kate’s workplace, namely studly long-hair Sam Mayfair (Kevin Bacon) understand that a girl with an out of town boyfriend is easy meat, and soon Kate finds herself sleeping with her boss, so that’s progress, right?

Kate might be better to make a Molotov cocktail of glitter and molten excrement and detonate it in the boardroom of her ad agency, but Picture Perfect is intent on playing by the rules, even if they reflect that it’s a man’s man’s world. Nick comes to town, and plays along with Kate’s game, but ends up falling for her even though he’s just as much of a twit as Sam Mayfair; are these really the only two men in New York that Kate has to choose from? Why does she have to choose at all?

Unfortunately these are the only two men on offer, and Glenn Gordon Caron’s film doesn’t have any of the spark that he previously brought to the sparring between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in Moonlighting. Aniston went on to far better things, but Picture Perfect doesn’t capture much of the agency that’s kept the star at the top for the last 25 years. Co-stars like Illeana Douglas and Olympia Dukakis suggest that Picture Perfect should have a strong female perspective, but the attempted portrayal of a independent career woman is hampered by the film portraying her as the irrational creature as might be imagined.

Comments

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    • Right, I’m stamping this out. Jennifer Aniston is a PROPER film star, but I wouldn’t expect someone who doesn’t get Minnie Driver to understand. It was Minnie Driver we disagreed upon, wasn’t it?

  1. Moonlighting was a classic tv show until both Willis and Shepherd “flew too close to the sun” and sabotaged the series. That had to be one insane set filming those shows. I think Jennifer Aniston has been ok throughout her movie career – few flops, but a few good ones as well.

    • Thank you! We’ve had a few Aniston deniers on here, but she’s a great star. I think the Moonlihting experience chastened the director somewhat; this could be directed by just about anyone, there’s no stamp here. But the best of Moonlighting was classic tv until the stars derailed it….

    • Right, I’m afraid this is a hill I’m prepared to die on. Jennifer Aniston is the Audrey Hepburn of our day. It’s a FACT! Any other opinion is not acceptable, so you’ll have to recallibrate. Sorry!

      • Let’s just hold on a minute. Before I declare you “dead to me” I must ask exactly why you consider Jen the new Audrey. Why Audrey in particular? Your answer will determine the future of our friendship…

        • Audrey was a classic movie star, men loved her, women wanted to be her. Which modern star is that true for? Hmm? Aniston has been a major movie star for 25 years, has created vehicles for herself, tested her range as a serious actress in Cake in particular, and is about as close to a star system remnant as we have. There’s no point in being an Aniston denier, she’s here, she’s a star, the public love her, and I offer The Break Up and The Bounty Hunter to be admitted to discovery. I hearby appoint a special master to sift through the evidence of her being a proper movie star and the court adjourns for lunch. -gavel smack.

          • I decided to sleep on this before I terminated our friendship….

            I forgot about The Break Up. That’s a good one – you’ve got me there.
            Never saw Cake, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt (thought I was in my anti-Aniston period by then so it’s her own fault I never watched it)

            Though I don’t like it, I can live with the Audrey comparison, based on your reasons. You didn’t say it was because she was the greatest actress, as I don’t think Audrey was. I think they both are best known for things outside their films — Audrey as a fashion icon (everyone knows her famous Breakfast AT photo, but I wonder how many could name the film).

            I still think Aniston will always be known primarily for her role in Friends – no shade on that, there are some wonderful TV actresses. But sorry, that don’t make you a movie star.

            You can appoint a special master if you like, but your Aniston films were everywhere, not locked up and mixed up with old DVDs and VHS tape….we had no choice but to raid you.

            • It’s a different world now. Hepburn was in plenty of duds, but was bigger than the movies that she was in. Actually, for all my flippant comparisons, they are similar role model figures, and have iconic power, Hepburn more so for being in the classic era.

              However, your raid on my Aniston collection is politically motivated and I will have to ask you to return everything that I stole from you. That’s how it works, right?

  2. I watched Friends decades after the fact. I think I did my part to help her career.
    And she never fake boyfriended me either. I don’t know if that should make me happy or sad.

  3. Can’t say I’ve followed Aniston’s career that closely. Liked her in those Horrible Bosses movies but I think they’re all I’ve seen her in. A record that I’ll be keeping intact.

    • Any serious film critic would prostrate themselves before the canon on Aniston. This film, unfortunately, is not worthy of her.

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