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'The Perfect Man'

 The Perfect Man
Directed by Mark Rosman
Universal, in release

All of Hilary Duff's previous starring vehicles have existed solely to promote her burgeoning musical career. The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Raise Your Voice were less about recreation than validation; theoretically, in today's American Idol culture, if you can convincingly act like a pop star, then you are a pop star. Duff's previously dogged refusal to focus on acting instead of pimping her latest single makes The Perfect Man perplexing. Duff plays her standard character—an introverted romantic who falls for a guy whose hunky exterior belies an artistic soul—but she never gets her equally standard moment of revelation, where the mousy caterpillar becomes the pretty, full-throated butterfly. The result is like a Nike commercial without a shot of the sneakers. In the space normally reserved for soundtrack plugs director Mark Rosman inserts lots and lots of tears: Duff and Heather Locklear, who plays a single mom so desperate to find Mr. Right that she falls for her daughter's scheme to set her up with a man who does not exist, each cry five times over the course of 90 minutes. But, music fans, don't fret. Hilary's next movie, co-starring sister Haylie, is titled Material Girls. Guess who sings the theme song. MATT SINGER

 
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