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ps-halle-willis1_1176415445Somewhere in Hollywood there is a very usual script. I say usual because it doesn’t look like all the other scripts that get made into movies every year. This one looks more like the “fill-in-the-blanks” game that you used to play as a kid.

The first line probably looks like this:

A beautiful / handsome ____________, played by _____________, risks his / her life to investigate a ___________’s murder.

Fill in the blanks anyway you like, and presto! you have a standard “Mad Libs” thriller that will make a few bucks at the multi-plex on opening weekend before heading straight to the DVD bargain bin.

Ashley Judd used to make a lot of these kinds of fill-in-the-blanks thrillers. Remember Double Jeopardy? Eye of the Beholder? No, neither do I, and that’s because they are so generic they make almost no impression on the viewer. Such is the problem with the Perfect Stranger, a new that seems to have borrowed the “Mad Libs” crime drama script template.

In Perfect Stranger a beautiful reporter, played by Halle Berry, risks her life to investigate a friend’s murder. So far, so standard. The addition of a couple of quirky characters should spice things up a bit, yes? Well, no. Giovanni Ribisi as a wacky computer genius and Bruce Willis as a two-timing advertising executive are both so by-the-book even the receptionist at Central Casting would think they were old hat.

There are plot twists a plenty, (no, Balki isn’t the killer, that was Perfect Strangers), but they feel like contrivances created by a desperate screenwriter rather than events that grew organically from the story. The twists and turns aren’t interesting, and when it is time for someone to go to jail (I won’t say who just in case you decide to throw your money away on this one) the evidence against them is so thin it wouldn’t even warrant a slap on the wrist at the People’s Court.

Perfect Stranger promises much, but delivers little. It’s a total _________ of _________.

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