“What’s in a name?” 17-year-old Claire Danes asked 22-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. The year is 1996, and Paul Rudd looks just as he does right now. “That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet,” she replies. Yes, but also no, 17-year-old Claire Danes. Names are extremely important. Especially if you are 17 and want your mom to call you “Lady Bird” and not “Christine,” or if you are 17 and want your 24-year-old lover to call you by his name, or if you are that one ClickHole article about Tobey Maguire wanting people to call him “Tugboat Maguire.”
Names are extremely important in the new Netflix romantic comedy The Perfect Date, in which perma-crush Noah Centineo plays a teenage boy named Brooks Rattigan. Brooks Rattigan’s full name is said approximately ten times throughout The Perfect Date’s full 90 minutes. There’s something thrilling — a little sexy, a little dangerous, a little disgusting — about the way it rolls off the tongue: Brooks Rattigan! It has become popular, on certain corners of the internet, to share unpopular opinions, and I happen to have a lot of unpopular opinions (however many of them are correct). Here is how I feel about the name Brooks Rattigan: I love it!
In The Perfect Date, Brooks Rattigan is 17 and stressed about his college application to his dream school, which is Yale. (Everyone wants to go to Yale, these days! Why?) He is tall and looks earnest and endearing, like a J.Crew model from 1999. To make money for college, he and his best friend create an app to let local ladies book him to be their nonthreatening plus-one — for school dances, day dates, or sometimes just long walks or tennis doubles outings. He doesn’t sleep with these women, but he does accidentally fall in love with one of them, because obviously.
There are a few more things I could tell you about Brooks Rattigan, but not one single detail about him or his movie is as important or incredible as the fact that his name is Brooks … [long, dramatic pause] … Rattigan. Matt Walsh plays his dad, Charlie Rattigan. Imagine Matt Walsh as Charlie Rattigan welcoming a baby boy in 2002. Nelly and Vanessa Carlton are extremely popular. Tobey Maguire is Spider-Man. Matt Walsh as Charlie Rattigan looks into the eyes of a baby and says: “Yeah, I think … Brooks Rattigan. Yeah. Let’s go with Brooks Rattigan. Okay.” Bliss!
Brooks Rattigan is the name of a person who would absolutely leave our big Spanish project — the one worth 30 percent of our final grade — to the last minute. Brooks Rattigan would text me the night before asking for the rubric. Would I still let Brooks Rattigan copy my history homework the next morning? Of course I would. He’s Brooks Rattigan. I consulted a group chat about the name Brooks Rattigan, specifically about how it was one of those names of one of those boys who you absolutely cannot stand, and yet keep up with in a vague way. “Brooks Rattigan broke up with me the day before homecoming, and I had to go to my picture party alone!” my friend Jianna said. “But I still reply to his Snapchats.” Another friend, Jenny, agreed: “Brooks Rattigan asked me to take him home from a party. Then asked me to drop him off at another girl’s house, and I did??”
It would be simpler if Brooks Rattigan were just the name of a generic asshole, or a homeroom nemesis. But he is The Perfect Date’s protagonist. “Brooks” sounds wholesome. “Rattigan” sounds like rat — the famous animal from the last scene of The Departed. (And also like Radegast, my least favorite beer hall in Brooklyn.) Try saying the name Brooks Rattigan three times fast: Brooks Rattigan, Brooks Rattigan, Brooks Rattigan. It reminds me of the fat rat stuck in that one manhole, and I smile. I almost hate how much I love it. The name Brooks Rattigan doesn’t make any sense within the plot of The Perfect Date, and yet: If I had a desk near a window, and on that desk sat a plant, I would name that plant Brooks Rattigan because it kinda sounds like rutabaga, another collection of sounds I really like to say.
In conclusion: Call me by your Brooks Rattigan, and I will call you by mine.