Film review: Picture Perfect

Published: Friday, Aug. 1 1997 1:40 p.m. MDT

Jennifer Aniston is the latest — and, actually, the last — of TV's "Friends" sextet to take a shot at big-screen stardom. Appropriately, "Picture Perfect" is little more than a big-screen sitcom.

The results should not surprise you. It's cute, fairly amusing, overly contrived and underwhelming. All of which will no doubt suit her fans.

The plot has Aniston playing a 28-year-old, on-the-rise ad executive at a Manhattan agency. She has a creative breakthrough when she comes up with a great slogan for the big mustard account that is draining all the company's energy. But when the company lands the account, Aniston is left out in the cold.

In a showdown with her chauvinistic boss (Kevin Dunn), Aniston — who favors revealing minis and lets her hair fall in her face — is told that she doesn't dress for success, and that her single, carefree life is too "collegiate."

So, her best friend (Illeana Douglas) comes to the rescue by showing a photograph to the boss — a photo of Aniston sitting on the lap of a young man (Jay Mohr, who was Tom Cruise's nasty rival in "Jerry Maguire").

As it happens, Aniston doesn't even know the guy; the picture was snapped at a wedding when he caught the garter and she caught the bouquet. But Douglas tells Dunn that Aniston and Mohr are engaged, and that marriage, mortgage and family are imminent.

Satisfied that Aniston is settling down, Dunn welcomes her aboard. But it isn't long before he insists that Mohr — a Connecticut videomaker — accompany her to an important client dinner.

To perpetuate the lie, Aniston bribes Mohr to come to New York and pretend to be her boyfriend. And, of course, Mohr begins to fall for her.

Meanwhile, Aniston begins an affair with the office womanizer (Kevin Bacon) and does battle with her interfering mother (Olympia Dukakis).

It's all pretty cut and dried. In fact, when Aniston says, "It sounds like something right out of 'The Patty Duke Show,' " she's not far off.

With Aniston in the Doris Day working-woman role, Douglas in the Eve Arden sidekick role, Dukakis in the overbearing Thelma Ritter role, Bacon in the womanizing Gig Young role and Mohr in the nice-guy Ralph Bellamy role, this could be one of those frothy '60s sex farces. Like "Lover Come Back," which was also set in the world of advertising. (Forgive the mixing of movie generations.)

And as with those old films, the cast here is also appealing and loaded with charm.

Sadly, the movie is not loaded with laughs.

There are plenty of plot holes and dropped balls . . . it's another movie that revolves around perpetuating lies and ends with sentimental homilies. ("My Best Friend's Wedding," "Liar Liar.")

And there are odd things at work, as when Dunn tells Aniston she should dress more professionally and her outfits become even more revealing, often making her look more like a hooker than an account executive. (And would someone please give the woman a comb? Someone even comments on her hair constantly falling in her face, but nothing changes.)

"Picture Perfect" is rated PG-13 for profanity, vulgarity, sex, revealing clothing and mild violence.

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