The Perfect Find Is Stylish, Silly & Absurd — Everything We Hoped It Would Be

Welcome to “What’s Good,” a column where we break down what’s soothing, distracting, or just plain good in the streaming world with a “rooting for everybody Black” energy. This edition delves into the Netflix rom-com The Perfect Find.
What’s Good? The sleek and stylish Gabrielle Union-starring, Numa Perrier-directed rom-com The Perfect Find premiered at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) last week to rapturous applause and audible laughter from the crowd (I was in the room full of the film’s stars, plus Taraji P. Henson hilariously yelling at the screen and Issa Rae’s signature cackle). It won the audience award for narrative feature at the Tribeca Film Festival the week before. The Perfect Find drops on Netflix today, and while it may not win any awards from your couch, and you won’t get to hear Taraji P. Henson react in real time to a hysterical bit involving a peacock named Taraji P. Henson, I promise you’re going to have a TIME watching this rom-com. It’s good because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. And if you settle in for a silly, sweet, swoon-inducing good time, that’s exactly what you’re going to get. 

The Perfect Find knows exactly what it’s here for: to entertain us and remind us that Black romances are some of the best of the genre. And the prime time for Black rom-coms isn’t just in the past. 

Who It’s Good For: The Perfect Find is director Numa Perrier’s love letter to rom-coms and homage to Black cinema. Throughout the movie, there are nods to Old Hollywood, but not the blonde-haired, blue-eyed throwbacks we usually see of that time. Union’s character Jenna is a disgraced former member of the fashion elite who lost her job and her boyfriend (the always dependable ex-in-a-Black-rom-com, D.B. Woodside) in a vaguely-referenced embarrassing epic fall from grace. But Jenna’s expertise is intact and set to a killer soundtrack ranging from “You Can’t Lose a Broken Heart” to “The Rain” (when this music cue dropped, the whole theatre lost their minds). She picks herself back up, finds a new job, and falls in love. The catch: the dude she falls for is her new boss’ son. Jenna’s boss, Darcy (Gina Torres having the time of her life as a mean girl mogul), is her fashion rival, and her son Eric (Keith Powers turns on the charm in every scene), is a budding filmmaker. He and Jenna bond over their mutual love for classic cinema and Black stars of the past like oft-forgotten 1930s movie star Nina Mae McKinney. Perrier weaves montages from cinema’s past into the gorgeous film, but she also nails the vibe of the 90s and early 2000s Black romances that audiences – Black audiences specifically — have been longing for. If you, like me, re-watch your fave Black rom-coms on repeat and inhale anything Black and romantic, like Eric inhaling Jenna’s [redacted], this movie is going to satisfy your craving. 
In an interview with Unbothered, Union and Powers said the film was intentionally crafted to elicit nostalgia and capture the vibe of the Black rom-coms we grew up with. Powers said he took inspiration from the “confidence” of that era. “Recently I re-watched Brown Sugar. The actors during that time when we had so many great Black rom-coms, they had this confidence that was amazing to watch as a young Black man,” Powers said. “[I thought] I want to be like that. They were fun and lighthearted and weren’t too serious, and that really meant something to me. I wanted Eric to feel fun.” Powers is getting at the crux of who this movie is for. If you just want to have a good time and watch FINE ASS Black folks dressing impeccably and engaging in some good ass kissing (Powers and Union leave a little to be desired when it comes to their chemistry, but these two can KISS), The Perfect Find is for you. Plus, if you’re a Black woman over a certain age – single or boo’d up — you’re going to relate to Jenna’s messy reinvention and her clumsy attempts to get her life back on track. It helps that she’s got a pretty young thing to help get her groove back (see what I did there?). Yes, we’ve seen this scenario play out on screen before, but even though we know the destination, The Perfect Find takes us on an entertaining, gratifying journey to get there. 
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
How Good Is It? A rom-com can really only be as good as its leads, and this is Gabrielle Union in a role I’ve been waiting for her to play. We’ve seen Union do a lot of things on screen. She’s been the two-faced mean girl ruling a cliche high school hierarchy (10 Things I Hate About You), the cheerleading antagonist who’s so talented you can’t help but root for her (Bring It On), a shew, uptight workaholic who falls for a player against her better judgement (Deliver Us From Eva), a badass baby sister who’d do anything for her big brother (Bad Boys II), and a high-powered news anchor who seemingly has it all (Being Mary Jane), just to name a few. Each of these roles are different, but they have one thing in common: these women have to be hard as hell to survive in their environments, like so many Black women do. Sure, their tough exterior is sometimes penetrated once you get deeper into their storylines, but rarely do we get to see Union be soft on screen. That’s part of why The Perfect Find is so good. Decades into her career, Union gets to let her guard down and just be silly and sweet onscreen. Jenna is a capable, intelligent fashionista, but she’s also just a bird in love who falls for the wrong guy (one way younger than her) and her softness isn’t seen as something she needs to shake off or suppress. It’s at the core of who she is. 

The Perfect Find is the film Black audiences consistently claim they want: one without struggle and suffering, something that is full of joy and, at times, is incredibly unserious.

At Netflix’s Black Excellence brunch at ABFF, Perrier said that she specifically chose Union’s flowy, feminine wardrobe because it stood in contrast to how we typically see her onscreen. Union told Unbothered it was The Perfect Find author Tia Williams’ original depiction of Jenna that drew her to the character. “I think Tia Williams crafted Jenna beautifully, and when we did the adaptation, I didn’t want to lose any of the reasons why I had to buy the book on the first day it was offered,” Union said. “I loved it so much and it starts with the words. I wanted that essence of Jenna to remain the same.” Jenna’s essence isn’t one solely consisting of excellence, like we’ve seen so many Black women relegated to onscreen. She’s not just a bumbly mess either. She exists somewhere in between, like so many of us do, fumbling through life while looking fabulous, and simultaneously fearing love will never truly find us while leaping faithfully when it does. Jenna’s antics with Eric (again, the man is her boss’ SON) may have you screaming at your screen and laughing at its absurdity, but the simplicity of her mistakes, and the relatability of this woman building her life back after heartbreak, will have you swooning and cheering through the screams. 
Rounded out by a stellar supporting cast (Janet Hubert is wonderful as Jenna’s mom, Jenna’s best friends are played flawlessly by Aisha Hinds and LaLa Anthony, and Godfrey makes an appearance in a dinner scene that may be my favorite sequence of the whole film), The Perfect Find knows exactly what it’s here for: to entertain us and remind us all that Black romances are some of the best of the genre. And the prime time for Black rom-coms isn’t just in the past. 
Ultimately, The Perfect Find is the film Black audiences consistently claim they want: one without struggle and suffering, something that is full of joy and, at times, is incredibly unserious (girl, WHY are you letting your boss/frenemy’s son go down on you IN HER HOUSE!? These are not serious people). It’s exactly what you want out of a Netflix rom-com you’re going to watch with your girls, snacks, and a good soundtrack. Take a deep breath, turn your brain off, and escape into the beautiful, Black-ass, stylish world of Jenna and Eric’s love story. The tone, the Brooklyn setting, the comedy, and the romance, you’ll find, is perfect. 
What Else Is Good?
• Happy Pride! This profile of Big Freedia about how she’s amplifying queer artists like herself is very good.
• NBC’s new fall drama Found may seem like another missing persons network procedural, but it’s shedding light on the epidemic of missing Black women and girls who don’t get the attention they deserve.
• Dominique Fishback. That’s it. That’s what’s good.
• Ending the same way I always do because this is still good and necessary: defunding the police.

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