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THE PERFECT MAN

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Teen-ager Holly Hamilton (Hilary Duff) has to switch schools every time her mom, Jean (Heather Locklear), gets dumped and makes the family move to a new town. Tired of moving and her mom's unhappiness, she comes up with the perfect, kooky scheme -- she will concoct a secret admirer to make her mom feel special, based on her friend's sexy, sensitive Uncle Ben (Chris Noth). The first half of Mark Rosman's movie overdoes cheap laughs (note Fab Five fashion guru Carson Pressley's hypersexed banter, and Jean's date with a Styx-obsessed baker), but gives way to an achingly earnest depiction of the helplessness Holly feels watching her mom's ups and downs, Jean's loneliness as a single parent and Holly's scars from her mother's erratic behavior. Though lopsided in its extremes from shlocky slapstick to family drama, The Perfect Man raises the standard Disney romantic comedy to at least a high school level. (JD)

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