“Smart Teen Comedy Helps Break Asian American Stereotypes and Launches Leonardo Nam’s Movie Career”

Movie Review by MANAA

The Perfect Score is about six high school kids from different walks of life that devise a plan to break into the building that houses the answers to the SAT. This is also a cleaver teen comedy that featured an innovative performance by Leonardo Nam in the part of Roy. The character Roy (beautifully written by Mark Schwan, Marc Hyman, and Jon Zacks and directed by Brian Robbins) was never meant to be for a specific race. But casting an Asian American made it surprisingly refreshing.

BREAKING THE STREOTYPES – “Teen Comedy” and “Asian,” you almost want to cringe when hear these two words. “Sixteen Candles”, “Revenge of the Nerds”, “Van Wilder”, “How High”, you name it Teen Comedies have not been kind to Asian American especially males. Eyeglasses, pocket protectors, over-achievers, and sexless socially inept geeks all became the standard with Asians in this type of film. But just like the American Pie series (featuring John Cho), this movie decided not to follow this tired movie formula and do something different for a change. The character Roy is a “pot head’ (Wow! Really? I didn’t know Asians and Asian Americans smoke weed?) but he has the potential to be brilliant. He is also is hilarious, fun loving, courageous, and a good friend. More importantly he’s American in every way. Never speaks with an accent, never talks about his culture that could point to audiences he’s different from everyone else, and love all the things we associate with teenage boys (sex, parties, time with friends, etc.). It encourages people to look beyond the skin and see the person for what he or she is. He thinks out of the box, most Asians are portrayed as people who are analytical, but this character’s thoughts are very abstract yet very effective.

LEONARDO NAM – If you never seen him before (I believe most of you have not) run don’t walk! His performance is top notch. It makes you proud because you know that this Asian American auditioned against every young actor/comedian of different races and he got the part because of his unique take on this character. He really pops off the screen.

WELL-WRITTEN CHARACTER – There are a lot of Asian American actors out there playing one-liners, criminals, and nerds, waiting for a role like this.

EQUAL TIME – With stars like Erika Christensen and Scarlett Johansson you would expect the movie to spotlight their characters more but we are happy to say that all six characters are well arced and pretty much have equal time.

IMPORTANCE OF ROY – He is THE narrator of the film. I might be biased but I dare to say that the movie is told through his point-of-view. He also has the last epilogue you see (won’t spoil the ending) and is the last image you see before fading to black. To say he plays a very intrical part of this movie is an understatement. Finally, he is given the funniest lines and a lot of his antics set our theatre rolling in the aisles (see bad news too).

SOCIAL OUTCAST – This might be a concern for some Asian Americans. Roy is not a nerd but he is still a social outcast. We went from one edge of the spectrum (nerds) to the other (pot heads).

COMIC RELIEF – We did state this as good but a lot might see this as a negative. We are always the comic relief. When are we going to be the romantic leads or the jocks? But let’s be positive, there is a difference at laughing AT Long Duk Dong from sixteen Candles and WITH Roy.

TOO SEXUAL? – Some might feel he takes his sexuality too far and construe him as a pervert – another stereotypes that haunt Asians. I think if he did not have this, he would be less interesting. He is really well balanced and there is an aspect about him (wont give away) that explains why he’s this wild.

BAD LINE – Roy does say, “Asian Girls don’t know how to drive, but they do know their SAT’s” (not exact quote). This is the only thing that I found racially offensive. Sorry sisters. But the line is delivered quick and not the emphasis of the scene.

WEAKEST LINK – Roy is a loose cannon that makes the others concerned that he might screw up the mission. But every time they have their doubts about him he does something surprisingly brilliant – again balance.

MANAA recommends this movie as a “must watch”. Watch it, and write to Leonardo Nam at his website and please write to the producer Tollin & Robins as well as Paramount and MTV films. The more they hear from us the more they are encouraged to break stereotypes.