Prayer Focus
Movie Review

The Perfect Score

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, sexual content and some drug references

Reviewed by: Randy N. Townley, M.A.

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Mature Teens and Adults
Comedy and Crime/Gangster
1 hr. 43 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Featuring: Scarlett Johansson (Girl with a Pearl Earring, Lost in Translation, Eight Legged Freaks)
Erika Christensen (Joyride, Swimfan)
Chris Evans (Not Another Teen Movie)
Darius Miles
Leonardo Nam
Director: Brian Robbins (Hardball)
Producer: Mike Tollin, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Brian Robbins, Michael Tollin
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
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Those of us who have decided to go on to college after high school understand the drama that leads up to taking the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). It’s an intense situation that can cause anxiety in the most rational of people. Enter the six characters of “The Perfect Score”. Each student has their own anxiety about taking the test which results in a variety of reasons for wanting to steal the answers to the test so they can score well on the test—or is that the only reason?

Story—Kyle, determined to become an architect at Cornell, and Matty whose sole ambition is to be with his girlfriend in Maryland, have determined the only way they can succeed at passing this test—even succeed in life—is to buck the system and steal, rather, “borrow” the SATs (as they claim). Kyle and Matty approach Francesca for assistance with stealing the SATs since her father, whose role in the company is never truly defined, works for the company that produces the SATs. She agrees to help and they begin to devise a plan to make it happen.

While taking the SATs several weeks prior, Kyle recalls that Anna, the student brain who is just one point away from valedictorian, completely bombed her SAT. He reaches out to her only to be rejected with some godly wisdom as Anna replies that cheating is wrong because a “victimless crime is still a crime.” As Matty and Kyle make plans to steal the test, with Francesca’s help, they realize that a “stoner” named Roy has been in the bathroom the whole time listening in on the plan. Apparently Roy tells the boys that in order for him to keep quiet about what’s going on, that he has to be involved in the stealing of the test.

The story begins to take a dramatic turn as the students fail in their attempt to steal the answers to the SATs. Anna has reconsidered being involved in the heist. She has determined that pleasing her parents and getting into a good school is more important than being an honest and upright person upholding godly virtues and morality. She also brings along Desmond, a fantastic basketball player who needs to pass the SAT with a score high enough to get a basketball scholarship to college.

The movie has a complex series of subplots developing each character’s justification for stealing the answers to the test. In the end, the students are unable to steal the answers to the test because they are located on a computer system that requires three or four passwords from unique logins to open the answers to the test. However, the test itself is able to be opened (and amazingly enough it is the exact test that is going to be administered at their school!). Kyle suggests that they break up into pairs so they could easily take and pass the test. They split up into pairs and begin writing down the answers to the test.

In this group of scenes, it is apparent that each student is being changed by the experience of stealing the SAT scores. They begin to realize who they are as individuals and are less concerned with the results of the SAT scores as they are with being who they really are—and who they want to be. Kyle and Anna realize they have feelings for each other, Matty realizes that Francesca loves him for who he is (unlike his current girlfriend in Maryland), and Desmond and Roy realize that although they are from opposite sides of the spectrum (basketball player vice “stoner”), that they could be friends and have a positive influence on each other.

The students regroup the morning of the test and Kyle has prepared cheat sheets for everyone. Each of the six students decide that they will NOT use the answers to cheat on the test (although they obviously now have an advantage because they have already taken the test the night before). At this point, it is learned that Francesca never needed to retake the SATs, that she was in the heist for the fun of it (to rebel against her father), and that Matty is not going to retake the test again because he is satisfied with where he is and wants to be with Francesca rather than his girlfriend in Maryland. Kyle, Anna, Desmond, and Roy retake the test and all but Roy pass with the scores that are necessary for their respective situations. In the end, each of the characters, through the course of this experience (stealing the test) fulfill their dreams and, according to the implication of the movie, they live happily ever after.

Language—About thirty profanities are spoken throughout the film. About twenty of them are spoken in the first 10 minutes. Profanity included “sh**,” “da**,” “f-word,” several instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and of course, sexual innuendos.

Violence—One scene depicts Francesca dreaming that she is dressed as Trinity from The Matrix. She is avoiding bullets fired by the security guards. She then pushes security guards in the path of the bullets being fired by other security guards.

Sex/Nudity—There is no nudity, but there are two sex scenes in the film. The movie also contains several one-liners about sex including: “hooking up” and “getting into her pants.” As usual, Hollywood uses crude language to objectify young women with whom the main male characters fantasize about having sex.

One of the sex scenes involves Anna and Roy. She imagines the two of them aggressively making out with each other in the back seat of Desmond’s vehicle. Roy crudely flirts with several women during the course of the movie. At one point, he is “seduced” by a woman much older than him, and it’s implied that the two are going to engage in sex as the scene cuts away. The other sex scene implies sex between Francesca’s sex-crazed father and a young girl he brings home (not much older than Francesca). The two are later shown sleeping together as Francesca arrives home from the heist.

Drugs—One of the central characters of the movie, Roy, is considered to be a “stoner.” Most of the time, Roy acts as if he is high on the drug of his choice. Every chance he gets, he gets high using a “bong” in his room (though never actually shown in the film). When other characters, question why he uses illegal drugs, his response is always “because it’s something to do.” That is hardly an excuse for using mind-altering drugs. It’s especially horrific considering the damage done to the temple that God has provided to each of us as His children.

Summary—We’ve come to expect less than serious work when it comes to “teen-comedies,” but this one fails to even become a comedy. With the exception of perhaps one or two times, the comedic situations fail to even draw faint laughter from an audience already tired and confused from trying to understand six separate sub-plots. “The Perfect Score” spends too much time justifying the characters’ reasons for cheating, and fails to really engage or entertain the audience. Never before have I witnessed such an unusual audience reaction after viewing a dramatic comedy—the twelve people who were with me didn’t move when the film ended; they were stricken with a feeling of emptiness having viewed a movie that failed to impart any wisdom or even provide a quality storyline.

So, if you’re looking for entertainment, don’t waste your time on this film.

Another negative is “The Perfect Score”’s handling of the issue of theft. The students steal keys, building plans, security badges, and a password so they can hack into the computer system and steal the answers to the upcoming SAT tests. If you are a parent that desires to teach your children the consequences of stealing, beware: Although “The Perfect Score” does acquiesce that stealing the test scores to the SAT is not necessarily the answer to a long and happy life—and that just being who you are is critical to achieving happiness, the film certainly condones the act of stealing, or any sin for that matter, as a means to an end for achieving happiness and the satisfaction of dreams and desires.

The only true source of happiness—and the only way we can truly be fulfilled, is by putting our lives in the hands of our Creator God who wishes us to believe in Him and lean not on our own understanding. Focusing on God’s will for our life and living an upright moral and virtuous life (as outlined in the Bible) is far more rewarding (and pleasing to the Lord)—despite Hollywood’s attempts at glamorizing and justifying “anything goes” lifestyles, based on the presumption that everything is okay as as long as you are a “good person” and happy.

Violence: Minor | Profanity: Moderate | Sex/Nudity: Moderate

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—“The Perfect Score” kept my family and I laughing from the beginning of the film. While the plot mainly centers around the idea of stealing a copy of the SAT, the enormity of the task for 6 teenagers is too great to fall for the idea they might succeed without major consequences. One of the major characters sacrifices himself for the other five and this is a story of redemption and starting over. While by no means should this be mistaken for a Christian film, there are positive points to discuss with your kids when the credits roll. Go see this one with your kids.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Brian Pollock, age 39

Comments from young people
Positive—…The movie was great, and kept the laughs coming. As for the objectionable material, none of the sex was actually shown, and when the two kids are in the back seat of the SUV, they both had their clothes on! The stoner’s issues were resolved, one of the character’s mothers convinces him to stop his foolish ways, and figure out what he’s going to do with the rest of his life. I would not recommend this movie for anyone under 13, though. Kids in middle and high school will really enjoy this movie.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Austin, age 15
Negative—This movie was okay, I mean it wasn’t anything special or anything. It was normal for a MTV film; it has a lot of profanities in it, a few sexual remarks, not as bad as a lot of other movies today, I found it kinda’ stupid, I thought it would be funny, but it wasn’t, only one thing made me some what laugh, that was when a mom of a friend came in and yelled at the stoner guy, all in all, it wasn’t worth the money.
My Ratings: [3]
—Michelle, age 14
Positive—I thought this was a great movie. It was funny at times. But there were a couple parts about drugs, but other then that I thought it was a good movie and worth seeing.
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Sheila, age 14
Negative—Ugh, the movie is full of drugs, drug references and mild sexual references. And what’s the movie about? “Cheat! It’s okay as long as most of you don’t get caught and you figure out the answers on your own in the long run!” It was boring, tacky, and offensive. Don’t bring the kids, seriously.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/2½]
—Anna Cassat, age 16
Movie Critics
…just rent the darned Breakfast Club instead of slogging through this sludge… infuriating as it veers between broad comedy and low-key thrills…
—Randy Cordova, The Arizona Republic
…Unfortunately, most of the teens who absorb the lessons taught in “The Perfect Score” (yet another dose of misshapen indoctrination from MTV Films) will leave thinking the best path to superior scores lies not in hardcore studying, but in manipulating the system…
—Loren Eaton, Plugged In
…Plot-challenged “Score” far from perfect… comes tantalizingly close to being interesting…
—Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
…gets some passing grades for acting but ultimately flunks the final… the only thought this movie provokes is wondering when it will be over…
—Melinda Ennis, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
…it rises above recent teen comedies with its substance, it can’t be labeled fluff…
—Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune
…Implausible… even dumber than it looks in the trailer… give this stinker a failing grade…
—Lou Lumenick, New York Post
…bland comedy… Yet it’s still better than half of last year’s teen movies…
—Ellen A. Kim, Seattle Post-Intelligencer