Aniston's Perfect for this Picture
Released back in 1997 whilst still playing the ever popular Rachel in TV sitcom Friends "Picture Perfect" was Jennifer Aniston's first attempt at being a movie leading lady and in all fairness she doesn't do a terrible job. A very typical romantic comedy "Picture Perfect" is inoffensively charming although highly predictable and compared to other romantic comedies it would best be described as average, neither terrible nor exceptional, just average.
Kate (Jennifer Aniston - He's Just Not That Into You) is a career focused woman who is passed up for promotion because her bosses deem her not suitable due to being single with no financial or emotional ties. To try and win promotion she decides to make up a fiancée Nick (Jay Mohr - S1m0ne), a guy who she met just the once at a friend's wedding and believes she will never see again. All goes well for Kate as she starts to further her career, gets attention from the office hunk Sam (Kevin Bacon - Sleepers) and although living a lie is happy. That is until her boss insists on meeting Nick.
As already indicated "Picture Perfect" is a very typical romantic comedy with a storyline which is both simple and predictable. It's easy to see where things will lead, as most romantic comedies do, and although it's always nice to be surprised by a movie which challenges the norm there is something strangely comforting watching this storyline slowly unfold despite knowing where it will likely end up. From the moment that Kate meets Nick you know that these two are destined for each other and when bad boy Sam enters the fray you know that he will end up in the mix of relationships somehow, it's just a matter of how and when rather than if.
What also helps is that "Picture Perfect" has to be one of the nicest paced romantic comedies I have watched, scenes gelling with each other giving it a nice steady flow of drama, comedy and romance in pretty much equal measure. In general, despite being predictable it is for the most a pleasant journey which bubbles a long allowing us to feel for the main characters on a simple level.
But as with most romantic comedies "Picture Perfect" has issues and the major one is that for a movie which is not overly dramatic or in fact cheesy, there is an ending which can only be described as cheesily melodramatic. It's the sort of crescendo ending that Hollywood demands of romantic comedies and in being so actually spoils the feeling of the movie, especially a comedy element to it which seems misplaced. In fact the melodramatic does creep into the main part of the movie, although only occasionally and I am on about the sickening chats of desperation that Kate has with her mother which although are acceptable interject quite harshly into the flowing storyline.
As for Jennifer Aniston's performance in her first leading role well in fact she doesn't do a bad job, although since she seems to have been thoroughly typecast in similar roles. Building on the likeability of her character Rachel in Friends, Kate shares quite a few similarities yet just enough differences so that it's not just a carbon copy. It's a nice character, lovable yet with a determined career streak which makes it more than just another 2 dimensional female lead although certainly plays on Aniston's feminine charms.
Opposite Aniston is Jay Mohr as the charming Nick a character which I have to say comes across as a little weak to me, but then I am sure this may have been the intention to play up the niceness of the character in comparison to bad boy Sam, marvellously played by Kevin Bacon. As leading men Mohr and Bacon do not do a bad job but there characters, especially Bacon's suffers from being very 2 dimensional. As for the rest of the cast, well Illeana Douglas does a more than adequate job as Kate's friend Darcy in her limited scenes as does Olympia Dukakis in her equally limited scenes as Kate's mother Rita.
What all this boils down to is that although a very run of the mill romantic comedy, "Picture Perfect" is a charming and surprisingly enjoyable movie. As her first lead role in a movie Jennifer Aniston does a surprisingly decent job of making it enjoyable both when it comes to the romance and comedy elements. But the rather glossy ending does cheapen what was up until its arrival a nicely paced movie.