The Perfect Man

Starring Hilary Duff, Heather Locklear, and Chris Noth. Rated general.

Aren't moms, like, the biggest drag? Doesn't it suck when it's not all about you? Yup, you're in Hilary Duff territory, folks, so hang onto your lip gloss and you'll enjoy the ride-if you're 12.

The Perfect Man is a tween-centric tale in which Duff's character, Holly, is repeatedly uprooted by her selfish single mom, Jean (Heather Locklear), each time the latter has her heart broken. Growing increasingly resentful, Holly masquerades as a dashing Internet love interest to woo her mom into staying put. You needn't be Kreskin to predict the outcome.

When her ruse backfires, it merely provides the means and opportunity for Duff-under the direction of her A Cinderella Story boss, Mark Rosman-to try tarnishing her G-rated image by trashing a restaurant í  la Bart Simpson to avoid coming clean. Through it all, Duff is as squeaky clean as her hair, making her wild-child act as difficult to swallow as TV bad girl Locklear's turn as a serial dumpee who'll sail away in any dork's Trans Am upon hearing "Where'd ya get that"

Nevertheless, during their heartfelt, if deceptive, e-mail exchanges, Holly and Jean come close to striking an emotional chord. But before we can sigh "At last, inner beauty", alas, we notice that the camera, in panning from the ladies' earnest keyboard activity to their vulnerable faces, must traverse their ample bosoms. And some things never change, like Duff's affinity for playing downtrodden Internet junkies with rotten moms, for example, or like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Carson Kressley snagging the biggest laughs in a supporting role. And like Chris Noth, here recycling Mr. Big to play a friend's Uncle Ben, whose romantic musings Holly borrows for her e-letters to mumsy.

But The Perfect Man scores with its healthy messages about the folly of running away from your troubles and the importance of having a positive parental role model. Unfortunately, this doesn't ensure that Holly herself sets a good example for Duff's fan base. The teen blithely accompanies a lovesick-and little-known-male classmate (newcomer Ben Feldman) into his bedroom and also makes an unescorted beeline right into the equally untested Ben's bachelor lair. More likely, though, audience members will simply giggle, covet Duff's hair, feel her pain, and blame the bitch who brought her into this world.