Romantic comedies seem to exist in a parallel universe in which implausibly successful and attractive people grapple with imaginary problems aided by the support of unrealistically attentive friends until arriving at predictable results. If you saw 2014’s rom-com parody They Came Together, you will be familiar with the general outline of The Perfect Match and should content yourself with whatever enjoyment you may have derived from that film rather than braving the tripe currently in question. The sole trait distinguishing Match from every other entry in the history of the genre would seem to be its protagonist’s employment as some nebulous sort of talent agent rather than as an architect or doctor. Those who would point out that Match might be further distinguished by its intent to cater to African-American audiences with a taste for saccharine dreck will be unceremoniously slapped in the face with a copy of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song until they stop spouting nonsense.
The cast here seems ill-equipped to carry a feature, with the first act playing as though someone gave the actors 20 minutes with the script and then decided to shoot the table read. Terrence Jenkins seems to be carving out a niche for himself in projects of this ilk, which is to say he should fire his agent, with the most significant credit to his name thus far being 2012’s abysmal Kevin Hart vehicle Think Like a Man. When your leading man’s career highlight consists of a supporting role in a terrible film based on a terrible book penned by the host of Family Feud, you should have some indication of the level of thespianism you can expect. Donald Faison makes the most of his limited screen time, but must owe someone a particularly significant favor because I can’t imagine he’s burned through his Scrubs money quickly enough to warrant signing on for a film this awful without ancillary motivation. Joe Pantoliano elevates the handful of scenes he’s given with his usual gleeful sleaze, but is severely underutilized and finishes the film as though he’s trying to get to the bank before 5 to cash his check. Apparently this film also featured a rapper named French Montana, who I assumed was a fictional celebrity until the credits rolled and I saw him billed “as himself.” My life is somewhat bleaker for having learned of this person’s existence.
Director Billie Woodruff is probably best known for helming a couple of R. Kelly videos in the early aughts, and by “best known” I mean I had to scour a decade back into his (limited) IMDB curriculum vitae before anything rang a bell. If you’ve ever wondered what a toothless R&B video would look like given a modest budget and stretched to 90 minutes, look upon The Perfect Match, ye mighty, and despair. Tepid and uninspired in its direction, favoring style over substance yet achieving neither, The Perfect Match careens aimlessly between the occasional gimmicky composition and amateurishly rote coverage, pausing only for a few incomprehensible editing choices along the way. In one of the biggest wastes of an R rating in recent memory, Woodruff’s “sex” scenes called to mind the pre-Internet days of my adolescence, in which one might stay up late watching Skinemax soft-core in the hopes of seeing a nipple or two, only to find that the previous hour-and-a-half had been wasted on a film that featured neither a compelling story nor compelling cleavage. Match makes those early cinematic disappointments look like Fellini or Welles.
If the wave of blaxploitation films that followed Sweetback might be somewhat reprehensible for their blatant intention to capitalize on African-American audiences, at least many of them were entertaining; The Perfect Match may be noted in posterity as an exemplar of ‘lack-sploitation,’ a new sub-genre designation characterized by a complete and total lack of any redeeming value. Rated R for sexuality, some nudity and language throughout