In the underachieving teen-heist flick The Perfect Score, six high school seniors, who span the GPA and class-rank spectrum, try to spirit the SAT answer key out of Educational Testing Service, conveniently headquartered in their hometown of Princeton. The posse fits roughly into the Breakfast Club template of temperaments. To crib from the analogy format of the test in question: Prim Anna (Erika Christensen) is to Molly Ringwald’s sushi connoisseur as rebellious Francesca (Scarlett Johansson) is to Ally Sheedy’s antisocialite, and hoops star Desmond (the NBA’s Darius Miles) is to Emilio Estevez’s sweatshirted sporto as stoner-lech Roy (Leonardo Nam) is to Judd Nelson’s wastoid. The two males not of color, Kyle (Chris Evans) and Matty (Bryan Greenberg), don’t quite achieve Anthony Michael Hall-caliber geekiness.
Clad in haute-punk rags, Johanssen has fun (after Tokyo and Delft) flinging herself at a dude her own age, but Christensen and most of the young men are barely there. The exception is Nam’s Roy. His baggy-pantsed idiot-savanting should be unbearable, but his comic timing is the only perfect score in this film. If a lazy Asian American kid with zero concern for studies seems almost too aggressively stereotype-upending, consider that he’s still the best test taker of the lot, and the dispenser of voice-overed wisdom. Alas, to return to the analogy section, Roy’s judgment might be all too telling: “X is to Y, as this shit is to boring.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 20, 2004