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Picks and Pans Review: Picture Perfect

updated 08/04/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/1997 01:00AM

Jennifer Aniston, Jay Mohr, Kevin Bacon, Olympia Dukakis

Why, a reader recently wrote after my negative review of a particularly moronic action film, can't movie critics "just sit back with a Coke and a smile?" Because we're paid to do something quite different (and because soft drinks are verboten in the tiny screening rooms where most movies are unspooled for critics). That said, however, Picture Perfect is one movie that's ideal for the laid-back approach. Simply accept it for what it is: a savvy romantic comedy that's about as substantial as the teensy-weensy green frock Aniston wears so fetchingly in one party scene.

Aniston stars as a 28-year-old copywriter at a Manhattan ad agency whose career and love life are going nowhere. All that changes when she pretends to be engaged to a fellow (Mohr, who was Tom Cruise's nemesis in Jerry Maguire) she met by chance at a wedding. Believing that Aniston's character is now a grown-up, her boss gives her a big promotion. And a sexy but caddish colleague (Bacon), attracted by her sudden unavailability, begins wooing her. Inevitably, trouble looms when Aniston must produce her fake fiancé for a business dinner.

Picture Perfect, as directed by Glenn Gordon Caron (TV's Moonlighting), plays like a smart sitcom. Everyone's lines are just a little snappier than in real life, and the plot, as Aniston herself says in the movie, is "like something out of The Patty Duke Show." Aniston, however, easily carries the picture on her narrow shoulders, proving herself as the only Friends star so far to show serious big-screen oomph. Bacon is amusingly sleazy, while Mohr, though likable, is a tad too much the moist-eyed puppy. In the end, one can enjoy Picture Perfect without buying into it. As Dukakis, playing Aniston's mom, says after Aniston claims a new hairdo makes Dukakis look years younger, "I don't believe a word of it, but I appreciate the effort." (PG-13)

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