It’ll be a while until we get the awaited sequel to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, but Netflix is filling that void with a new Noah Centineo rom-com, The Perfect Date, out April 12. In this one, Centineo plays Brooks, whose goal in life is to attend an Ivy League school and become the next Steve Jobs. Once he makes some quick cash by being his classmate’s outspoken cousin Celia’s (Laura Marano) date to her school dance, he decides to create an app where women can rent him out to be their pretend boyfriend. (In a very G-rated way.) TATBILB is based on a beloved YA series, but is The Perfect Date based on anything?
The new rom-com is based on the novel The Stand-In by Steve Bloom, who is credited as the co-screenwriter in the film. The movie doesn’t change the plot much from the book, following the way Brooks and Celia’s dynamic grows from faux relationship to friendship, and then real romance. But long before it became a novel, Bloom had already written a screenplay.
In an interview with Mass Live from 2016, Bloom said that the story began as a screenplay a decade ago, which was considered by multiple production companies, including Warner Bros. "Although a succession of fairly big name actors and directors — including Zac Efron, Shia LaBeouf and Garry Marshall — were attached to the script over the years, it never quite got over the hump and got made," said Bloom.
Bloom also told Mass Live that the idea for the movie came up when an acquaintance whose daughter was on the same soccer team as his told him about his daughter’s dilemma. “His daughter's prom was coming up and her date had suddenly canceled. His daughter really wanted to go, and he asked if me if my daughter knew anyone who might escort her. A stand-in," recalled the screenwriter. "I asked myself what would happen if such a person did exist. Why would he do it on a regular basis? For money. Why would he need money? It snowballed from there."
In the novel and the movie, Brooks is a complex, flawed character. He always strives to do the best thing but gets caught up in caring too much about what others think about him, which makes him shallow and lack compassion at times. But by the end of the movie, he comes to terms with who he is and makes changes in his life. Bloom mentioned in the aforementioned interview that he drew some of Brooks’ characteristics from his own, making the character feel very realistic. “My wife maintains we are one and the same, even though I'm four decades older! I readily admit to having most of Brooks's bad qualities, and hope I have a few of his redeeming ones. In any event, I wanted an imperfect, flawed hero. Saints are boring,” said Bloom.
And Centineo appreciated how realistically Bloom wrote the character, too. "I can relate to Brooks as well in my high school experience, just because of the ambition he has. He's willing to really put himself out there and commit to his dreams of going to this dream school and making enough money to provide," the actor explains to Bustle over the phone.
However, the star noted that while he can see himself in Brooks's drive, he didn't quite agree with the ending Bloom chose for the movie, that vastly differs from the novel. Spoilers for both ahead. In the novel, Brooks and Celia go to colleges away from each other, choosing to keep a long-distance relationship. But, in the movie, Brooks makes the ultimate sacrifice, leaving behind his dreams of an Ivy League education to be with Celia.
"I think he had a great idea with this app, and yeah, it got out of control because he let himself get out of control, but I think ultimately, he settled. I don't think I'll get in trouble for saying this, but you know... The film kind of idealizes his choice in the end of the film, and I disagree with this choice," confesses the actor.
Those who agree with Centineo will want to check out the ending that Bloom originally wrote for the novel and try to spot the other differences between the book and the new movie.