The year was 2004. It was one year before Henry Ian Cusick would make his premiere as Desmond in Lost, and three years before the character name Pete(r) Campbell would already be taken. Having just sold their first online dating service to the Match.com people for $150 million, the founders of UDate.com launched PerfectMatch.com and were looking to blow some money. So they "partnered with" (press release speak for "gave money to") Lifetime to make a movie that centered around Peter Campbell (Cusick) finding love on through their site.
Though I was always a Sawyer girl and am still smarting from Lost's dumb ending, I watched this movie only because Desmond was in it, and then because of that strange hold that Lifetime movies have over me. I'm like a time traveler who knows what's going to happen and can't change it, but is forced to watch it all take place. I knew "Jenny" was going to end up with her old schoolmate who works at her mom's flower shop (and is not gay), because he spent half the movie babysitting her kid. And even if the info button hadn't told me, I would have known that Desmond was going to end up with Jenny's mom, because she placed a personal ad in her daughter's name, then corresponded with Desmond over email as Jenny before they met. But I just couldn't turn away--even when the bad-news, rocker ex-husband said, "Perfect Match, huh? I didn't know people met like that!"
I'm sorry to say that this movie is mostly like a really, really subpar "Steve Martin's Roxanne," and even includes a montage in which the daughter tries to pretend like she knows about poetry and cooking to keep Desmond's interest. At around the time that a book of Keats poems with a red rose in it is left on Desmond's bed by Jenny's mom, I began to really regret it wasn't like most Lifetime movies with "Perfect" in their title--full of murder, falling down stairs, and a tense final scene where the object of the crazy woman's obsession pretends to agree with her so she'll put the gun down.
Alas, this movie doesn't have a single murder--or even assault--and ends with Desmond kissing Jenny's mom, and Jenny's kid (who, thus far, has only been in the movie to make his mother seem sympathetic) asking, "Do I have to call you 'Gramps' now?" and everyone getting a hardy belly laugh at how incredibly old the 50-something-year-old grandmother is.
"Perfect Romance" really exemplifies the flip-side of the LME (Lifetime Movie Effect). The LME keeps otherwise unrelevant stars on our TVs--the Meredith Baxters, Kellie Martins, and Lacy Chabrets of the world--but it also keeps on the air relevant stars in horrible, painfully dumb movies.
And while Henry Ian Cusick went on to be the only consistently good character in one of the biggest cult shows of all time, and PerfectMatch.com went on to sponsor a Roger Lodge–hosted show on the Retirement Living channel, here I am, being practically forced to watch a movie so bad that I think it actually dulled the pain in my heart from Lost letting me down a million times before it left me. (But somebody's gotta do it.)