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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Date Movie

A Pointless Parody of Romantic Comedies

“Date Movie” is one of those movies made with a ‘damn-the-critics, full-speed-ahead’ attitude – and that’s fine. Not all movies are made to please the people who watch them for a living. But the thing is, I don’t have a problem with raunchy comedies, fart jokes, and other bathroom humor. I do however have a huge problem sitting through a ‘comedy’ movie that’s just not funny.

Truth be told, I was actually looking forward to “Date Movie” because the premise sounded like it could lend itself to some pretty amusing scenes. I also admire the film’s star, Alyson Hannigan, from her days playing a lesbian witch on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I’m not too proud to admit I laughed my butt off at “Scary Movie” and since this comes from – as they make clear in the advertisement – two of the six writers of that parody of horror films, I was prepared for comedy aimed at teenaged boys.

Date Movie
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What I wasn’t ready for was a movie in which the filmmakers thought including a scene where the romantic leads beat up a homeless man was great comedy. What did a spoof of those disgusting bum fight videos have to do with skewering romantic comedies? Absolutely nothing.

The plot (if it can be called that) involves a hugely overweight, lonely woman named Julia Jones (Hannigan) who is desperate for a husband. Awaking from a nightmare in which she's left at the altar by Napoleon Dynamite, Julia visits a matchmaker, gets a “Pimp My Ride”-style makeover/liposuction treatment, and winds up on the film’s version of “The Bachelor.” She ends up with the handsome British hunk, Grant Fonckyerdoder (Adam Campbell), after he mows down her competition with a shotgun. I kid you not.

From there the movie rapidly deteriorates. Julia takes Grant home to meet the parents (played by Eddie Griffin and Meera Simhan) who really want their daughter to marry an African-American, Greek, Japanese, Indian, Jewish man, and then Grant takes Julia’s family to meet the Fonckyerdoders (Jennifer Coolidge and Fred Willard). Exactly when are things supposed to get funny?

Throw in a pooping cat, a Michael Jackson look-alike who tries to pick up a little boy (yeah, that’s comedy gold), and even a large-bootied woman who’s supposed to remind us of Jennifer Lopez (that's original) and you've basically got the highlight reel from "Date Movie."

“Date Movie” feels as though the writers wrote a scene and turned to each other and asked if it was nausea-inducing. If the answer was yes, then it was included in the movie. There’s no real story, no real point to the film other than to cram as many uncomfortably stupid scenes into an 80 minute movie as possible.

If a film could suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, “Date Movie” would be it. Scenes are edited together at an annoyingly fast pace leaving way too many set-ups without any pay-offs. Just as you pick up on the movie they’re supposedly parodying, the scene cuts to another rom-com sequence without ever allowing the previous bit to finish up.

The film lampoons “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Shallow Hal,” “Mr and Mrs Smith,” “Hitch,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “When Harry Met Sally," and "Pretty Woman," as well as a few films that are by no means romantic comedies (“Lord of the Rings,” “Star Wars Episode III,” “Kill Bill”), and the Paris Hilton car washing/hamburger eating TV commercial. With all that rom-com and other assorted parody material ripe for the picking, you’d think the filmmakers could have come up with something – anything – that works. That would be giving the guys behind “Date Movie” way too much credit.

Writer/director Aaron Seltzer and co-writer Jason Friedberg should have asked their “Scary Movie” buddies to lend a hand. This is one film that might have actually benefited from the efforts of a few more screenwriters. As it is, "Date Movie" is a poor excuse of a parody film with silly gross-out gags replacing any real humor.

*Review by Rebecca Murray, Your guide to Hollywood movies


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