Picture Perfect

While mega-budget action-adventure spectacles may constitute most "summer movies," romantic comedies run a close second. The latest entry, Picture Perfect, shares a television pedigree with 'Til There Was You and a far-fetched marriage-geared plot with My Best Friend's Wedding, but manages to outcharm both.

Directed by Glenn Gordon Caron ("Moonlighting"), co-written with Arleen Sorkin and Paul Slansky (Fired Up) and starring Jennifer Aniston ("Friends"), Picture Perfect showcases yet another young career woman with a lousy love life. In this case it's Kate Mosley (Aniston), whose ambition and talent don't mesh with the midlevel advertising job she's stuck in. It seems that her unctuous boss doesn't believe she's suitably indentured to his firm to be moved up the corporate ladder, and that her single status and eccentric wardrobe signal a lack of maturity and commitment.

Instead of seeing a good lawyer, Kate heads to an out-of-town wedding and ends up having an attractive picture taken with the congenial best man, Nick (Jay Mohr). That photograph becomes the centerpiece of an elaborate lie constructed by her co-worker Darcy (Illeana Douglas), who tells the boss that these strangers are actually engaged.

A hesitant Kate soon discovers this lie is what the people closest to her want to hear. Not only does she please her doting mother (Olympia Dukakis) and attract the interest of the office lothario, Sam (Kevin Bacon), she gets a promotion.

When the plot heads to the next sitcom level -- wherein Kate must produce her flesh-and-blood fiancé -- it gains its biggest asset: Mohr's solid, decent and accommodating Nick (the polar opposite of the vengeful, ultracompetitive agent he played in Jerry Maguire).

He enters the fray just as Aniston's able Kate has grown confident enough in her skills to treat her own life as if it were an ad campaign, mistaking the polished image she has created for reality.

Director Caron has kept Picture Perfect loose and offbeat, avoiding glossiness and shrillness, and giving the impression that even the most clichéd moments come straight from the heart.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for the Metro Times. E-mail her at [email protected].

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