Sunday, September 12, 2010
"I can't believe I let this happen," says Coach Jim Wilkes, The Perfect Teacher, about not noticing that his crazy minx of a student has been throwing herself on him since his first day at his new school. And frankly, I couldn't believe it either--besides it being hard to believe that he hadn't noticed her 2-inch heels and 2-inch skirts, it's basically impossible that a guy who looks like a cross between the brother-in-law on Weeds and Ryan Seacrest (with the beard scruff of Vaughn from Alias thrown in) has never had one of the hormone-filled girls in his math class hit on him before.
But if watching LMN's "Perfect Sunday" marathon taught me anything, it's that when crazy people are bein' all crazy about you, it's really hard to notice. That's why all "Perfect" movies (The Perfect Wife, The Perfect Marriage, The Perfect Neighbor, The Perfect Nanny, etc.) have a non-obsession-inducing sidekick that notices the crazy and tries to stop it. In "The Perfect Nanny," for instance, it's the daughter, played ably by Nikki from 90210. When her feelings that her nanny is creepy are ignored by her father, she does some research herself and stumbles upon Mona from "Who's the Boss?", the crazy nanny's mother, who also sells herbal supplements. In "The Perfect Marriage" it's the object of obsession's best gal pal, who narrowly escapes getting knifed by a well-placed purse. But in "The Perfect Teacher," the finale of the "Perfect" marathon and LMN's newest made-for-tv movie, the poor, hot teacher has to fend for himself, even getting dumped by his girlfriend when he decides he wants to move to San Diego to be with his daughter and ex-wife (don't worry, she comes back later, and the final scene is the traditional "couple in the park with dog and kid").
Not having a smart sidekick is just one element in a long list of things "The Perfect Teacher" did wrong, beginning with the fact that the word "Perfect," in Lifetime-speak, means "completely delusional and wholly homicidal." If you haven't figured it out yet, the "perfect" neighbor actually tries to kill her neighbor, while the perfect wife tries to kill her husband, the perfect marriage (partner) kills all her husbands, and the perfect nanny tries to kill the widower who hires her. But the perfect teacher actually is perfect--he's handsome, coaches girls' volleyball, never crosses the line with his students, and gets along splendidly with his ex-wife. Note to LMN: this movie should actually be called "The Perfect STUDENT." She's the psycho one.
But about that psycho thing..."The Perfect Neighbor" starts off with the neighbor on a bus, having flashbacks about murdering someone. "The Perfect Nanny" starts off with the nanny knifing herself, then getting out of a mental hospital. And "The Perfect Marriage" starts off with a woman killing her husband after her boyfriend, who looks just like Patricia Arquette's husband on Medium, convinces her to in some sexy flashbacks. "The Perfect Teacher," on the other hand, starts off with a scene in which Devon, the "perfect" student, gets ready for a dance while bitchily talking to her chubby (but not so chubby she can't be on TV) best friend, with just enough shots of her in her fancy underwear to make us remind ourselves that she's played by a 24-year-old, so it's really not as creepy as sexualizing a teenager (...right?).
"I just don't get Lifetime," my boyfriend has said. "Isn't it supposed to be PRO woman? Why is every woman who likes sex evil?" It's a question that can't really be answered, and as the movie fills its Lifetime-mandated dose of sexy scenes that don't actually show any T or A with Devon's daydreams, I couldn't help but remember wistfully my hot high school math teacher, Mr. Ryan, and my numerous fantasies involving his perfect butt.
In the Lifetime world, it's a quick jump from having hot fantasies about your teacher to mowing down his ex-wife in your SUV, but unfortunately, not quick enough. Another way in which "The Perfect Teacher" went wrong is that no one's murdered until over an hour into the movie! No previous nannies crushed under a bookcase, no current girlfriends hit with a rock while swimming in their pools, no husbands hit with a rock-filled purse and then pushed over a cliff, no helpless grandpas injected with potassium chloride while doing a crossword puzzle, nothing. In fact, if Devon hadn't run over the perfect teacher's wife, this movie would really be nothing more than a poor high school student with a dead (not even by her own hands!) mother and an absentee father, who's a tad too into her teacher. As Megan Park, who plays Devon, said on her Twitter (yes, I went there), "watching #theperfectteacher on LMN right now. I'm such a biotch in this movie!" And a "biotch" plus an unrealistic car accident scene (she's hit hard enough to die, yet only ONE of her earbuds falls out) does not a "perfect" psycho make.
But for all the missteps in "The Perfect Teacher," the one I really can't forgive is the lack of a scene where someone falls down the stairs. Falling down the stairs has long been a Lifetime tradition, but in the "perfect" movies, where a psycho lady infiltrates a home, gains trust, then starts killing people, pushing someone down the stairs is absolutely essential to the plan of not arousing the object of your obsession's suspicion. In "The Perfect Neighbor," I knew the nosy aunt was in for it the second she left the perfect neighbor's bedroom during an argument. In "The Perfect Wife," the brother-in-law, not content to just be poisoned, stumbles to the stairs and falls to his death just as the poison kicks in. "The Perfect Marriage" (the best "Perfect" movie in the bunch), does something unique and has the psycho save her father-in-law from falling down the stairs, only to poison him later. And in "The Perfect Nanny," it's the nanny herself who tumbles down the staircase, only to get back up and chase after the daughter some more.
I can't help but wonder what "The Perfect Teacher" would have been like if it actually had been the teacher who was pyscho...so many stairwells in a high school, and so many wasted opportunities.