Last weekend moviegoers made the latest film, The Perfect Guy, starring Sanna Lathan and Michael Ealy number one. With gross receipts of $25,888,154 it beat out the previous weeks first and second contenders War Room and Straight Outta Compton. This is exciting news for the duo that is making their first appearance together on the screen. Lathan, who also has a role as producer on the film, says “I am excited to play a role that breaks away from what audiences are use to me portraying,” she adds “Love and Basketball was a long time ago.”
The film, which chronicles the up and down relationship of Leah Vaughn (Sanaa Lathan) and long-term boyfriend Dave, played by the ageless Morris Chestnut, has several twists and turns. There is the emotional strain of two successful people, hyper-focused on their careers, struggling to make a commitment that ultimately leads down the aisle. The audience, completely comfortable talking back to the screen, hisses and boos as Chestnuts character rebukes Leah’s request for a stronger commitment. Leah and the audience are heartbroken until blue-eyed Carter Duncan (Michael Ealy) shows up.
Carter, a computer security analyst, sweeps Leah off her feat. There’s a whimsical courtship until carter reveals his true colors. The romance turns volatile and Leah asks her new beau to hit the road. Carter goes ape-shit and starts to make Leah’s world a living hell. This is when the film begins to resemble a plot we’ve seen repeated before. Think 2002’s Enough, starring Halle Berry, or 2009’s Obsessed starring Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. Throw in a little Tom and Jerry in for campy humor and you have it! However, this does not dilute or weaken the strength of the film. Yes, the storyline is familiar. But, the audience, particularly an audience of African-Americans, have not seen these two in these roles before. With an estimate 60 percent of the audience being African-American, this film will mark the third week in a row a film with a predominantly black cast has occupied the number one spot. The small budget film of 12 million dollars has exceeded expectations.
What this film represents even greater is the lack of financial support of films with black actors in leading roles. Even back in 1999 the film Double Jeopardy, starring Ashley Judd, had a similar storyline to this film, but a 70 million dollar budget.
Lathan’s character may not have found the perfect guy. However, she did find the perfect opportunity as an actor and producer to give value to African-American actors and moviegoers. And with 40 percent of the audience being non-black, its shows a greater need for inclusion and multicultural casts.
Words by De’Von Johnson