After I finished watching Anne of the Thousand Days, the next film on my DVR was The Perfect Daughter. The Perfect Daughter originally aired on March 26th on Lifetime. According to the imdb, it was originally called The Carpenter’s Daughter but I imagine Lifetime changed the title so that it could fit in with films like The Perfect Teacher.
(Add to that, The Carpenter’s Daughter sounds like it should be another one of those films where Tom Hanks argues that Jesus survived the crucifixion and ran off with the Magdalene.)
Anyway, the perfect daughter of the title is Natalie Parish (Sadie Calvano). Natalie seems to have a great future in front of her. She’s pretty, she’s smart, and she’s responsible. She has the grades to get into the Ivy League college of her choice. On top of all that, despite being shy, she has just been elected student council president!
Oh sure, not everything is perfect for Natalie. She doesn’t have a boyfriend. She’s frequently insecure. She idolizes a mother that she’s never met and her father, Martin (Brady Smith), may be a hunky blue-collar type of guy but he’s also extremely over protective. He worries that Natalie will grow up to be like her mother, who apparently was not the saint that Natalie believes her to be.
Martin grows even more concerned when, while driving home one night, he comes across his daughter in the middle of the road. She went to a party, she got drunk, and she had sex with popular jock Sam Cahill (Reiley McClendon)! Martin freaks out and takes his daughter to the hospital, causing her nonstop embarrassment at school. He also demands that Sam be arrested for raping his daughter.
Of course, what Martin is overlooking is that Sam did not rape his daughter. As Natalie tells him, the sex was consensual. Martin is shocked but he’ll be even more shocked when Natalie reveals that she’s pregnant.
Complicating matters is that Martin is working for Sam’s father, the snobbish Bruce Cahill (Parker Stevenson). The film also suggests that Martin may be in love with Bruce’s wife, Julie (Meredith Salenger).
What I was wondering, as I watched the film, is why Natalie was chasing after Sam when Martin’s business partner, Nick (Johann Urb), was so much hotter. And he was also single! Seriously, Sam was a nice guy and everything but Nick epitomized this sort of sweaty, manly glory, the type of sexy that otherwise seems to be limited to the guys that you see in pickup truck commercials.
ANYWAY — The Perfect Daughter may sound like a typical Lifetime film but actually, it’s not. Though there is a little bit of melodrama towards the end, The Perfect Daughter is more of a character study of an overprotective father struggling to accept that his daughter is growing up. The story has a bit more nuance than the typical Lifetime story but, at the same time, the decision to tone down the melodrama comes at a cost. The Perfect Daughter is a well-acted and intelligent film but it’s not a particularly fun movie.
In the end, it’s okay but it’s no Perfect Teacher.