Thursday, November 3, 2011

Films Not Worth Reviewing, Vol. 2 - Date Movie

The Good: It has Alyson Hannigan in it . . . (That's a stretch)
The Bad: Terrible acting, No character development, Dumb plot, NOT FUNNY!
The Basics: Alyson Hannigan cannot save this terrible film that references more than parodies. I didn't laugh once. Not once.

Today is the first of (hopefully) two days where I review two movies that are rather close together in terms of plot and concept, but are dramatically far apart as far as quality. Both are parodies of films oriented toward teen audiences and are spoofs of romantic comedies. The first of the two movies is Date Movie, a flick brought to market by the success of Scary Movie. It was written by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (the latter directed it as well) and they are plugged as "two of the six writers of Scary Movie." Based on my experience with Scary Movie 4 (reviewed here!), I watched Date Movie in spite of this. My logic going in with an open mind to this flick was that in order to get the subsequent Scary Movie movies made, the first one must have been fairly original and funny, so by logical extension, if the franchise was splitting off into "Date Movies," the first one might offer the best chance for humor.

Well, when I'm wrong, I'm terribly wrong.

Julia Jones, an overweight single woman who works in a restaurant with a multicultural family, falls in love at first sight with the wealthy blonde Grant Funkyerdoder. After surviving a reality television show to begin dating him, Julia and Grant fall in love. Sadly for Julia, Grant's ex-fiance, Andy, returns in advance of the wedding to attempt to break them up. Along the way, Julia and Grant visit a wedding planner, the soon-to-be-in-laws, and a cat that uses the toilet . . . poorly.

This is stupid. I mean, there's no way to put it other than that. This is a stupid movie and there's nothing even remotely funny about it. I mean, I sat through it, I watched it, I waited to laugh. It's not funny. Moreover, I'm sure I don't understand what makes it "Unrated." I understand that the original version was PG-13 and despite the stupid, supposedly crude humor of Date Movie, whatever was added back into the movie that was kept out of the theatrical version did not make the movie feel "R" to me and it certainly did not feel unrated (when I think unrated, I think movies like Bound, reviewed here, which appeared in art theaters as an unrated movie rather than risk whatever the MPAA was going to hit it with).

Sadly, I think it would take a thirteen year-old mentality to actually enjoy this movie. It opens with a stupid dance number wherein Alyson Hannigan (Julia Jones) dances around in a fat suit to Kalis's song "Milkshakes" while virtually everyone on screen runs from her. The thing is, this sets up the level of humor that is not so much base as it is stupid for the rest of the movie. There is the obligatory slight against homosexuals, a construction worker puts a nail into his head rather than watch the obese woman dance, and other such inane moments that are not funny and are disturbing for the message they send the target audience of this flick.

Those who follow my reviews know that romantic comedies have an awful time passing my bar; they are so often formulaic and obvious, they seldom surprise and they hold up poorly upon rewatching. Date Movie is so much less a parody of romantic comedies than it is a series of references to romantic comedies jumbled up with the intent to amuse. The flick references My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Meet The Parents, Pimp My Ride, The Bachelor, Hitch, The Wedding Planner, and My Best Friend's Wedding, among others.

The problem with Date Movie is that is simply rehashes moments of each of those movies with little twists, like Julia's father spraying everyone with humus (as the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding did with Windex). It's not insightful, it's not funny, and it's more an homage to these conceits from other films than a commentary on them. Instead, Date Movie is simply a place for writers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer to put their usual jokes about farting, fat people and gays in another context. They are no funnier here than they were in a horror movie context and the result is the same disappointed feeling that made me wonder why I was even completing the film.

A good parody plays off the conceits of what is being parodied in order to reveal the recurring faults within a genre, series or work of art. Date Movie ineptly combines elements from markedly better films in order to try to make a comedy that the writers already attempted in another context (and failed at).

More than that, the movie brings down decent actors with it. Eddie Griffin is stiflingly unfunny in his role as Julia's father (I think were supposed to think it's funny that Julia has a black father, an Indian mother and a Japanese sister while she appears fairly white). Instead, it's just more that falls flat.

The real disappointment here is poor Alyson Hannigan. Hannigan had a pretty amazing run on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, where she was able to truly spread her acting wings. In Date Movie, she is plugged into a role where she is playing a type, not a character and she does not do that very well. Instead, she wanders through the flick as pointless as the script moves her and she does it listlessly without any sense of comic timing or ability that she revealed as Willow.

If you saw the preview to Date Movie and thought it would be funny, I'd wonder why, but I would also say that after sitting through the DVD, it's not. This is eighty-five minutes of my life I cannot get back. Fortunately, you need not make the same mistake!

For other works with Tom Lenk, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Six Feet Under - Season Four
Buffy The Vampire Slayer


For other movie reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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