Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story (2004)
"Should I be afraid of you?"- Amber Frey (Tracy Middendorf), to her lovely new boyfriend, Scott Peterson
Stars: Dean Cain, Sarah Joy Brown, David Denman, Dee Wallace
Director: Roger Young
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and brief language
Run Time: 01h:24m:11s
Release Date: 2004-06-08
DVD ReviewI have a great relationship with and a genuine fondness for my sister-in-law, but recently I learned something about her that I find completely disturbing: she thinks that Scott Peterson is, like, totally hot. Her judgment about him aside, you knew as soon as this murder-in-Modesto story was splashed all over the tabs that it was only a matter of time before it became movie-of-the-week fodder, and here we are. Believe me, I have no shame in admitting that I eat this stuff up, Peterson as the engineer of his own low-rent, northern California noir; he's either a mastermind, an evil idiot, or a hideous (if callous) victim of circumstance, all of which make for riveting installments of Larry King Live.
This movie isn't very good, though. For one thing, its subtitle is misleading: this isn't Laci Peterson's story, for we see her only in the fliers pasted on every conceivable surface in her community before her body was found. (For the uninitiated: Laci Peterson, eight months pregnant, disappeared on or about Christmas Eve 2002; shortly thereafter, her body and that of her unborn child were discovered, and her husband, Scott, was charged with double homicide. His trial should pick up the slack once Kobe Bryant's becomes yesterday's news.) The story starts with Scott phoning around to family and friends: have you seen Laci? No one has; soon the whole community pitches in, looking for the lost pregnant woman. Ugly revelations start coming fast and furious: Scott was having an affair with Amber Frey, who didn't know that he was married; Scott's story about going fishing and leaving his wife alone for the holiday seems increasingly suspect; the rifts between the Petersons and the Rochas (Laci's family) becomes more pronounced, and it's only a matter of time until the Modesto P.D. formally charge Scott with these heinous crimes.
The film is largely agnostic about Scott's guilt or innocence, and that choice, twinned with the decision not to show us Laci, means that there isn't a lot of dramatic ground to cover. Dean Cain has ditched the cape and tights and gets to be weaselly as Scott, who, even if you think he didn't commit the crime, is some kind of jackass. The central storytelling device focuses on friends of Scott's and Laci's, Tommy and Kate; he's Scott's best buddy and clings to his friend's presumption of innocence, while she, like Laci, is pregnant, and reaches the conclusion long before her husband does that this heartless creep has murdered her pregnant friend. Mostly, they scream at each other a lot.
I'm not sure why the filmmakers didn't give us the seemingly obligatory Scott-'n-Laci flashbacks—certainly not for reasons of taste, for if that was the case, they wouldn't be involved with this project to begin with. (If we can see Nicole Brown Simpson, and Carol Stuart, and Sunny von Bulow, surely Laci Peterson need not be exempt.) We do get some hokey split-screen phone conversations, though, and seemingly innocent doggies on the beach finding a body—they go back to the well with that tired one not once, but twice. And because of the time frame set-up, we get no wacky lawyering—no Mark Geragos? No Gloria Allred? Dudes, where's the fun in that? (Also, when did people start "going missing"? Can we ship that particular construction back across the Atlantic?) So the problem with this film isn't that it's trashy—my goodness, you get that from the title—but that it's boring.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: The film was made on the cheap, and it shows, especially in this transfer, which is just messy and sloppy. It's full of scratches (more horizontal than vertical, for some reason) and debris, but then again, if you're looking to a movie like this for a seminar on cinematography, you might want to re-evaluate things.
Image Transfer Grade: D
Audio Transfer Review: The obligatory portentous music is laid on a little thick, and there are balance and volume problems—they're both wildly uneven, so if you jack up the volume to hear Cain whisper in one scene, you'll be punished in the next, when someone is screaming and crying and gnashing their teeth.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Thai with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Breakin' All the Rules, The Company, The Fog of War, Radio, Secret Window, Whale Rider
Extras Review: Nothing but trailers and subtitles, so that Scott Peterson's Thai and Chinese fan base can keep up.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsUnless you're champing at the bit and are going through some sort of Scott Peterson withdrawal before his trial begins, you can safely pass on this one.
Jon Danziger 2004-06-06