Middle Management Malaise: Our Review of ‘A Perfect Pairing’

Posted in Netflix, What's Streaming? by - May 18, 2022
Middle Management Malaise: Our Review of ‘A Perfect Pairing’

Stuart McDonald’s A Perfect Pairing, like most romantic comedies, can go both ways – I’m being polite here. In this movie, its sub genre element manifest in one of the kinkiest fantasies that most people have. That fantasy is quitting one’s job. Victoria Justice plays the protagonist, Lola, and she basically reams her boss for being a “garden-variety snob”.

Her boss, Calder, run his wine business as a toxic misogynist, and Lola has had enough. Her exit strategy though involves running her own wine import company. She only has one client so far. And she needs to net a bigger client to survive and that client, Hazel Vaughn, apparently is in Australia.

Lola rents an AirBnB that Hazel also runs so that she can pitch her company, Salud Imports. She believes Salud Imports as the perfect company to bring Hazel’s wines to the Australian market. But apparently Hazel also doubles as a sheep farmer with a workforce that has its occasional alcoholic.

Lola, wanting to show Hazel initiative, subs in to literally shovel dung to please her. This work involves the other female sheep shearers hazing her. Don’t worry, they’re going to end up liking her and helping her anyway. It also involves working under the farm’s middle management man.

Adam Demos plays this middle management character, Max, who is also more Australian and rugged than he was in Sex/Life. A Perfect Pairing‘s trajectory, then, becomes more predictable. The movie occasionally goes back to Lola’s old workplace in LA. There, Calder does things like choke the life out a stress ball. He perceives her moves as stepping into his territory.

The movie tries to mark the differences between LA and Australia, the former cold and the latter hot. But viewers would feel that difference more if it didn’t portray Australia in a dated way. It shows off Australia like a 1990’s Discovery Channel travelogue instead of showing the grit of an otherwise interesting country. Australia is, thus, where Lola and Max spend a lot of quality time together.

Lola and Max’s quality time is so milquetoast that it’s the kind of movie you can watch with your parents. You don’t have to worry if the couple get more intimate because they don’t. Not really. Of course, A Perfect Pairing will have its third act conflict. But it’s one that falls flat because of its execution. The parties to blame are Demos and the production.

Demos doesn’t have the drive to make that third act reveal stick. The production, meanwhile thinks that slapping a suede jacket on a tall Australian is enough to evince character but it isn’t. This movie, especially Hilary Galanoy and Elizabeth Hackett’s screenplay, is all surface. Lastly, what is up with Netflix romcoms and using songs from the 2000s? It doesn’t make viewers feel nostalgic, it just makes us feel old.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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