Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: JonBenét and the City of Boulder (TV Movie 2000) Poster

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Surprisingly, quite good
webmaster-4916 August 2003
At the beginning of this, with the obtrusive music and interminable opening, I groaned "oh no, this is gonna suck." Yet it quickly righted itself and established a good pace, the music backed off, and the director found a good way to reach a dramatic ending despite the case never being solved. Yes, we get an avalanche of characters at the beginning, and yes, that doll was absolutely ridiculous, and the constant "let us pray" scenes were a drag--but none of this seriously detracted from the movie (I'm calling it a movie because on the DVD it's a continuous 3hrs).

Does it answer the question "who killed JonBenet?" No. And more importantly, it doesn't try to do so. It presents the two main theories: parents did it vs. intruder did it, and shows us how and to some extent why each of the characters supports the theory that they do. The infighting between the Boulder Police and the DA's office is brought to life (best part of the movie), Danny Shapiro's role is clarified (very muddled in the book), and we're shown exactly how the case was screwed up almost from the very beginning, by detectives that were in over their heads. Thankfully, the director also edited this down to be a tight 3hrs as opposed to Schiller's sprawling, poorly written 800pgs.

High points:

The autopsy: as fake as the doll was, the girl on the table looked real and gave you an idea of just how badly JonBenet had been tortured before being killed. DA Alex Hunter: we get to watch him go from hip, experienced, Boulder DA to a frazzled, hard-drinking, Boulder politician whose career is going up in smoke because the police department can't bring him an actual case. Steve Thomas/Danny Shapiro: this whole bizarre game between the BPD and the Globe's reporter on the scence is fascinating. Who's playing whom here? The detectives make fun of Shapiro, while Shapiro plays all sides against the middle. Scene editing: the scenes go on just long enough to give you a sense of why they're there, but not so long as to make you twiddle your thumbs in irritation. Lou Smit in the Ramsey House: a great presentation of the key points of the intruder theory. Location: the film was shot on the actual Boulder locations for the most part, giving it a boost of realism.

LowLights: Music is annoying at the beginning: all that soppy piano stuff lends an unwanted covering of daytime soap to the early part of the film. Too many closeups: if Linda Arndt's (character, not actress) face came billowing into the screen one more time, I was going to hit FF. The director finally got out of that "dramatic closeup" mode by the last 2/3, but for a while, it was too much. "Let us pray" While I appreciate that the Ramseys may be deeply religious, 5min scenes in a church listening to a 2nd rate church choir can be yawn-inducing. There are a few too many long "let us rely on our faith" scenes.

All in all, very much worth seeing.

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JonBenet would have been 22...
MarieGabrielle20 June 2012
This year, sad to reflect on this.

This film is convoluted and protracted, as a few other critics have mentioned. While a few good performances are presented (Ann-Margret, as Nedra, Patsy Ramsey's mother) and Marge Helgenberger as narcissistic and erratic Patsy Ramsey. Also Kris Kristoffersen is interesting, but portrays detective Lou Smit, who has sided with the Ramseys and offered no other possible explanations, and there were many.

So many people had keys to that house. A Christmas party in 1996 with over 50 people in their Colorado home.

I wanted to like this film as the case even today is intriguing and labyrinthine. But the film diverges onto sub-plots (some unnecessary, the audience knows tabloid reporters will sell their own grandmother for a headline). Ken Howard portrays the D.A., Alex Hunter and yet we do not see Harold Haddon, the defense attorney and the defense side here, and the machinations of the American legal system, the control over Bolder Police Department, and the possible obstructions to justice and obfuscations created by the defense.

By now we in the U.S. have seen many bungled and sad cases like this with "baffled" police and powerful District Attorneys, as well as corrupt defense attorneys. Sad that JonBenet herself may never see justice (the parents motives have been questionable), and new facts may not come to light.

A highly recommended book on this case is recommended: Steve Thomas wrote a few investigative theories, and also Jeffrey Scott Shapiro. Worth looking into for those interested in facts and true crime investigations. A curiosity piece as a movie, but in my opinion the audience today is more savvy and deserves some answers. 5/10.
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" case?"
moonspinner5510 June 2008
The Boulder, Colorado crime scene: a murdered 6-year-old girl from an affluent family on Christmas Day, her body found in the basement of her parents' maze-like house some eight hours after they reported her missing. This begins a chain of events that leads to lies, deception, bruised egos, terminated careers, fallen reputations, lawsuits, and so much ill will and bad blood that Boulder is probably still reeling from the after-shocks of this case. Excellent docudrama, a four-hour movie for television chronicling the baffling murder investigation beginning in 1996, makes its case right from the start: that it is irrelevant how much time has transpired since the actual crime occurred (irrelevant, also, how many years have passed since this movie originally aired in 2000). A compulsively watchable and gripping tapestry of lives, it doesn't matter how resigned the viewer may be to the fact this headline-making yarn is pretty much unsolvable--it is done with enormous skill and a keen-eyed sensibility. Director Lawrence Schiller and writer Tom Torpor, who adapted Schiller's book, have an awful lot of material to sift through, and dozens of complicated characters to introduce us to, yet they do so with clarity and aplomb. It would be next to impossible to eliminate scenes or characters without leaving unanswered questions behind, so the running time is justified; still, I did grow tired of a sub-plot involving a "bottom feeder" reporter from a tabloid journal, and Kris Kristofferson's homicide detective Lou Smit never quite comes to life (Smit stood steadfastly behind the child's accused parents, and had a nifty summation of events which he proclaimed in a private session, yet much of the time we don't know where Smit stands with some of the evidence gathered--or why he seemed to believed the parents' story from the get-go). The film is frustrating and yet uncanny, well-informed and yet cloudy. The case has not been solved--and the movie isn't satisfying on an emotional level as a result--yet the release we want to get from it is transposed into mind-boggling food for thought. The large cast is superb, particularly Ken Howard as District Attorney Alex Hunter (who waged a war of words and actions with the Colorado Police Dept.) and Marg Helgenberger as the child's erratic mother. The wealthy parents, who stonewalled the police for four months and seemed to lead everyone in charge around by the hand, are two of the most fascinating murder witnesses in criminal history, and this is most likely the best examination of them we'll ever get on film.
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Finally informing us the story!!
urban_punisha3 June 2001
This movie premiered through FOXTEL and my whole family had remembered this tragic event taking place. Now I have a very good memory an I must say with all honesty I cannot remember this!!!

All the actors did a great job especially Marg who delivers great scenes when Patsy is in shock etc. Outlining every little thing in this case in 4 hours was well done although i hope oneday someone will make a hollywood version of the parents doing it or an intruder.

Chilling murder ever since i watched this ive become rather drawn to this case, I cant understand how The police stuffed up so bad. I reccommend this to anyone that enjoys a good story.
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I liked the movie
sagittarius_08128910 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
As a 16 year old who started reading 'Perfect Murder Perfect Town' I was excited to hear that a movie had been made (especially when Marg was playing Patsy as CSI is my favorite show). Although I do agree that the movie didn't really give us an insight into what Jonbenet was like, I liked the images of her riding her bike along the sidewalk, this shows us that under all that make-up and dresses, Jonbenet was just like a regular 6yr old girl. I've read several articles and books on the murder, but part of me still can't believe Patsy could kill her daughter. To me Jonbenet was Patsy's pride and joy- she was smart, beautiful and talented, so I question why Patsy would kill her over the fact that Jonbenet still wet the bed. Although a lot of the evidence point toward Jonbenet's parents. Like how Jonbenet's body was covered, as though the killer thought she might've been cold or to hide her innocent face, how no one in the house heard someone carry a healthy 6yr old down to the basement, how the killer knew they had enough time to torture Jonbenet before killing her, how Jonebent was killed from behind, showing the killer couldn't look her in the face as he or she killed her and how s complete stranger could navigate themselves around the complicated structure of the house and know that Patsy descended from the back stairway.

I think this movie deserves an 8/10. And I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the song is called that is played during the opening credits.
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i was a reporter in boulder during the investigation; obviously i was very curious to see part 1.
judy729 June 2003
i agree with previous comments that there were too many characters in part #1. i reported on the investigation and although i knew nearly all the players, i had trouble keeping them straight while watching. i can tell you, that at least in part #1, the portrayals of the ramseys, commander eller, det. steve thomas and d.a. alex hunter were right on. so far, the tv movie is pretty even-handed.
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NTheDirectorsChr27 June 2003
I have read the book, "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" which is excellent; the movie, however, is terrible. The movie begins with the morning of the kidnapping, which is the first mistake. The audience is never given a chance to know JonBenet thus, when she is found murdered, we feel nothing for it. We don't know the victim, not to mention the body in the film is beyond fake. Look closely and you will see it rocking back and forth briefly after it has been touched by a mourner.

Secondly, all the pivital information is thrown in the viewer's face all at once. People who have not read the book or followed the case will be confused. Within 3 minutes, 7 characters are introduced, either in person or by mention of their name.

Thirdly, like the lack of characterization of JonBenet, we know nothing of the family. All that we know is what we are told which is the number one mistake of story-telling...telling and not showing.

What makes the movie so bad is the fact that it could have been so good. What is so odd, is that 7 years ago, when I was a freshman in high school, I wrote a script based on the crime (I am a film major) and oddly enough, i truly believe that my version was MUCH more emotionally charged, as it should be, after all, a 6 year old girl was murdered. And ironically enough, many of the scenes that are in this film , were actually in my script. My point: this movie seems like a 14 year old wrote it.

Read the book, don't watch the movie.
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manuel-pestalozzi8 February 2006
True crime docu-dramas are interesting because they allow you to get some insight into certain social conditions in a certain part of the world. Seen from that angle, this movie offers quite a lot. The viewers get to know the beautiful scenery of the town of Boulder, Colorado, a place most of us may like to live in. In the movie, it serves as the almost constantly perceptible background to a very sad story, the murder of a little girl. There is no happy ending. The person who committed this atrocious crime is not apprehended and very likely never will be. The movie does not participate in the guessing game. Instead it tries to document the tribulations of a community not used to the widespread attention the crime is given and the ensuing pressure from the media.

What makes this story and the movie interesting is the feeling it conveys that there seem to be serious cultural differences within the USA (which I think is little known in my part of the world). The parents of the murdered girl had moved to Boulder from the Southeast not too long before the tragedy. They brought with them a lifestyle which to the people of Boulder might have seemed unusual and strange, and this seems to have furthered suspicions against them. The parents in their turn did not seem to trust their surroundings anymore once the tragedy happened and tried to get back East „into safety" immediately. One can only guess how many misunderstandings this general mistrust might have caused and how this prevented the crime from being solved.

The acting is very good, all characters are convincing, especially Deirdre Lovejoy as the young detective who is brutally left to her own devices in a very difficult and complicated situation and Sean Whalen as tabloid journalist Jeff Shapiro, a character who seems to be the screen writer's pet and offers some comic relief. The only thing that disturbed me is the title. Perfect Murder? I mean, I can understand the slightly ironic meaning of Perfect Town, but perfect murder, this indicates a criminal act someone profited from without getting punished. Who on earth should profit from the murder of a little girl?
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Not so Perfect Movie!
Syl29 August 2006
I read the book and of course there must be a movie and in fact there was a mini-series for this book. I watched it and was a bit disappointed with it. I mean because we don't have a viable suspect even with John Mark Karr proclaiming his guilt and not being in the same state. He probably never met JonBenet Ramsey or knew about her existence until the tragic murder. I never thought the Ramseys were involve and they were finally clear after this film was made in 2003. So it's not the couple and I always knew they were innocent of such a horrendous crime. Anyway it's Lou Smith who brings common sense when a bunch of silly police detectives pointing the wrong finger when they messed up the crime scene in the first place. Yes, the Ramseys are rich and hired attorneys to protect them. Of course, the beauty pageants was what Patsy and JonBenet loved to do together and I'm sure JonBenet would have been a beauty queen now if she was not gone. Anyway, the movie does try to be objective if possible. It's a shame that we don't know the truth even after almost 10 years, it's another dead end in the case with so many questions and few answers. We know that the Ramseys are innocent.
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I Became Very Upset With This Boring Inconclusive Long Movie
Claudio Carvalho23 March 2005
In the Christmas of 1996, a young girl is kidnapped and found dead in her house. The police suspects of her mother but have many difficulties in the search, since her family is very rich and uses the lawyers to hold the investigation. Yesterday I saw "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: JonBenét and the City of Boulder" and I became very upset with this boring inconclusive long movie. The story begins without any development of the characters, the children is kidnapped and found murdered in the first ten minutes, and then the dull story becomes linear, without any plot point. I was expecting a huge twist in the end of the story, but it finishes without any conclusion. This flick could never last more than 40 minutes running time! My vote is four.

Title (Brazil): "Crime na Cidade Perfeita" ("Crime in the Perfect City")
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Now let her rest in peace
Dean Kish3 March 2000
Since this week has become quite slow at the movies this week I thought I would give my thoughts on the CBS Mini-Series that premiered last weekend. The mini-series is based on the controversial book of the same name detailing an insider's viewpoint of what actually went down. I personally have been following the overwhelming media coverage that is "the JonBenet Ramsey murder case". I have watched and waited to find out the whole story since it broke in Christmas of 1997. An angel left our world that day and I guess I was one of those thousands that wanted someone to blame. Last Sunday night Part One of the mini-series debuted and it was great to see author Lawrence Schiller was the shows producer and director. And he did do a wonderful job with displaying the facts, misunderstandings and rumors that almost crippled the Boulder, Colorado police. From a media perspective we really never saw these people as human beings but as people working to far outside of their means. The tension and factual displays were reminiscent of last year's "The Insider". In some retrospect you could say this film was TV's version. The mini-series wasn't afraid to bring about any of the suspicions or angles on the case which brought for amazing TV. This was a delight after watching such a blatant disregard for the case that Fox displayed in their one-hour special "Getting Away With Murder: The JonBenet Story". I would really be interested to see a fan of murder novels take on this film.

The performances in the film were more in the style of a documentary and made the audience closed to the actual investigation. Well except for Marg Helgenberger's screaming and unbalanced Patsy Ramsey. An enlightening aspect was the side of the story brought forth by Lou Ritt (Kris Kristofferson) who to this day says the Ramsey's are innocent and will do all he can to find the real killer. Have to admire that devotion and honor. The country and most of the police had already convicted the Ramseys. I liked this version of the happenings and its delivery of the facts without banging us over the head that law enforcement let "so-called" parental child killers loose.

Having made the above statements I have noticed that this film has been dogged by critics and the public. Mostly due to people being sickened by the tragedy and not wanting to relive it. All they scream is let the little angel rest in peace. I agree let her rest in peace but it was still nice to see the viewpoint of the police and that they to were victims of the media machine. (3.5 of 5) So Says the Soothsayer
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Horrific case, drab depiction
evening125 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I admit I didn't sit through the entirety of this.

I remain interested in this notorious case, and I liked the way the film captured the picture-perfect quality of Boulder at Christmastime, but I tired of the cardboard characterizations here and particularly the stereotypic histrionics of Marg Helgenbrenner as JonBenet's mother.

One particularly jarring detail was the apparent use of a mannequin to portray the dead beauty princess as she was carried prone in the arms of her father. How tacky!

Watching some of this prompted me to catch up with the case on Wikipedia. Somehow in all the hype about the case I had missed the fact that a stranger's DNA was found on the body of JonBenet, who had been sexually assaulted, garroted, and hit in the head. That stranger has yet to be identified but supposedly his DNA is still being checked weekly against crime databases. And supposedly a new investigation into the case has been opened in Colorado in recent years.

The story of JonBenet is indeed sad. To its credit, the film effectively suggests that she was living out her mother's fantasies of being a star. She also suffered from bed wetting.

Will justice ever come to JonBenet? For now her body lies in a Georgia cemetery next to that of her mother, who died 10 years later of ovarian cancer, and her half-sister, who had died at age 22 in a car crash.
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Very good.....
musicgirl125877 June 2004
This movie was very well done. I enjoy watching it. The little girl who plays JonBenet is a splitting image of the real JonBenet. Both the actors who played the parents look very much like the real thing. Even though in the pictures that the parents look through are obviously not JonBenet, if you didn't know better, you would think it was really her. And the dummy that was in the casket was very life-like. As you watch this, you start to get a hint on whodunnit. It was very well-acted. Does anyone know if the real house was used in the film?? It look so much like the real 755 15th Street. I love the line "I need an ambulance, I need back-up. I have a dead little girl." And the music played when the dad finds her is quite eerie making it even more shivery than it already is. It's a great movie, especially one when you are in the crime-solving mood.
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Thrilling,than boring
stefg013 November 2001
I've just seen "Perfect murder,perfect town",and they drag you right from the beginning into the action.After 30 minutes you think,whaaaww this is good stuff,but as off than the story gets much too far carried away and when the second part of the movie starts,you'll seriously get bored.Just so much that at the end you couldn't care less who did it. They shouldn't made a mini-serie out of this one.If the director can't get the story in a logical order and throws different charactors and plots right through each other then you shouldn't. So,as a short summary:first half an hour thrilling,then 2 hours and a half boring and very dull!!!!!
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Great Portrayal of the Real Story!
BreanneB31 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was a great portrayal of the real story! Everyone did a great job acting. I especially liked Marg Helenberger's performance as Patsy Ramsey.

Now that there has been more extensive research done on this case Iam throughly convinced that an intruder killed Jonbenet. We know that it was not that nut John Mark Karr, his DNA did not match. However, I still think it was an intruder and I'm confident that they will someday solve the murder. The family has my greatest sympathies. Also, they have my greatest sympathies for the sad death of Patsy this past June.

I think the reason that no arrests have ever been made is the result of sloppy police work. They did not secure the house, or keep any unneeded person out. It would have been different if they had.

Excellent Movie!
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One of the best movies ever
michaelmyers632715 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Like everyone else, when I heard about the death of Jonbenet Ramsey in 1996, I wanted to know more. And when I heard that they were going to play a movie on the crime, I wanted to see it. This movie is amazing. The director makes it so that the movie is completely unbiased. They don't point a finger at all. They just show what happened, what mistakes were made and the experience of what it was like. I don't know if they actually used the outside of the Ramsey house, but it looks identical. It does have a few disturbing scenes (SPOILER) like when the father finds his daughter in the basement. Also when she is in the coffin, its pretty spooky. Other than that, the acting is solid, and even though its like 3 hours long, the time goes by fast because of the fast pace and the good climax. Definitely a must see. After you see this movie, I am sure you will have a few ideas on who killed Jonbenet Ramsey.
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too many characters.
barb-730 August 2000
It was one of the most complicated mini series I have ever seen on television. They alway say the reason they have less characters in movies is it gets too confusing. After seeing this movie I can see why. There were so many characters I couldn't figure who was who. Patsy Ramsy was great she was a real control freek. I also liked Kris Kriscroffen did a great job too.
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Perfect Murder Perfect Town Review
JustinWolfe9447615 May 2012
I remember when this murder actually happened I was 13 years old, the memory of this case is like the memory of The sinking of the Titanic or the September 11th attacks, America never forgets. Well to the movie it is very well acted by the characters, though I wish that they would have gotten a different actress to portray JonBenet since Dyanne Iandoli who played JonBenet was limited by her real parents of what she could and couldn't do and how long she could be on set, all in all she was Dyanne Iandoli the actress was too over protected by her parents to be able to be more meaningful to the movie itself and the character, I wish they would have chosen another little girl around Jonbenet's actual age of six years old, whose parents were not so over protected on the set. The movie Overall was excellent, but it should be viewed by people who are somewhat familiar with the actual case, there is very little footage of JonBenet it is more of after the fact. I agree with other reviewers that Their should have been more insight to JonBenet Ramsey. If I was the director I would have added more footage of JonBenet, Plus maybe as an added bonus on the DVD an hour documentary with photographs and home documentaries of JonBenet as a little girl, this footage though would contain no pageant photos as I would document JonBenet as who see would want the world to see her if she was here. As a normal child whose life was taken away by some unnamed assailant who I believe is still out there somewhere. I will not name who I believe killed her due to that being up to those who are still investigating the crime. back to the Movie it does what it is supposed to do and that is portray the case in a non-judgmental way and i believe it succeeded by showing what happened as the way it actually did in a non-harmful way. Great overall movie I would though suggest those not familiar with the case to just Skip the movie for they will not understand what is going on. Also with actual morgue parts children should not view this movie period. It would not be a good picture to scare your child where they won't even sleep in their own room, I know my sister who was the same age as JonBenet, When this movie came out was so scared she slept with my parents for months thinking that what happened to JonBenet would happen to her, she was totally freaked out, I had to be the one to explain in a way she would understand that it was just it was just a movie, I did not tell her that the crime really did happen, she was already freaked out I did not want to giver her a heart attack on top of it. So in closing watch the movie with care and an opened mind and know that this movie is just a glimpse of the actual case. I give this movie 5 stars and 10 out of 10 rating excellent portraying of the JonBenet Ramsey Case.
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Very good movie!
Movie Nuttball8 November 2004
This movie, Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: JonBenét and the City of Boulder is a very good crime drama movie based on the true story that stars Ronny Cox, Marg Helgenberger, Kris Kristofferson, and John Heard! All of these actors and the rest of the cast are excellent! I was very surprised how Cox and Helgenberger acted. Their performances are remarkable! In My opinion everything is fine such as the editing, music, and directing in the film. The movie is about three hours long and during this time it really keeps you guessing who did it! If you want to see one of the most unbelievable crimes in history told in a great movie and like the cast mentioned above in great performances than I strongly recommend this film!
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