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DATE MOVIE
Unrated

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Jennifer Coolidge, Tony Cox, Fred Willard, Eddie Griffin
Director:  Aaron Seltzer
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features:  See Review
Length:  84 Minutes
Release Date:  May 30, 2006

“It’s like I’m trapped in a bad Mel Gibson movie!”

Film ½*

Date Movie was one of those films that wasn’t screened for critics prior to its release date.  That may have been the only intelligent decision associated with this flick.

The decisions to write it, cast it, film it and actually exhibit it for public scrutiny weren’t nearly as astute.  The DVD cover proclaims it was written by two of the six writers of Scary Movie, and now, having seen the film, I can only suppose it was the two guys who wrote the end credits. 

How can you take a genre as ripe to be spoofed as the date movie and create something so unbelievably unfunny?  I guess it takes a kind of genius that I can’t fathom.  Date Movie bites off more than it can chew, and much more than the audience can digest.

I never laughed once.  I gagged frequently.  Some of the comic highlights include liposuction, giant hairy moles (and no, not the kind that burrow in the ground), a girl rubbing herself down with hamburgers, and a guy licking another guy’s hairy chest and hacking up a hairball.  Uh, oh…wait…I think I feel a laugh coming on…hold on…nope, just some gas from the microwave popcorn.

Julia (Hanagan) starts out as a fat girl who gets “pimped” into a hottie, meets Grant (Campbell), and tries to have a romance even though her black Greek father (Griffin) disapproves.  I just saved you 84 minutes.

Well, I mean, that’s the plot in a nutshell.  The real crux of the movie is a never ending series of unfunny gags that frequently get milked until they’re beyond bone dry.  It spoofs Kill Bill, Hitch, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Mr. And Mrs. Smith, Pretty Woman, Napoleon Dynamite and more.  There’s no flow, no laughs, and no point.  There were more laughs in Munich.

Alyson Hannigan is talented, charming and naturally funny, so I don’t know WHAT made her agent tell her to go for this script.  Whoever he is, he’s in desperate need of a Jerry Maguire moment, and fast.  Adam Campbell is handsome but painful to watch…in more than a couple of scenes, you can see him trying not to crack up at his own antics.  Totally unprofessional…if I don’t get to laugh, neither should he.

The only decent aspect of the whole fiasco is Jennifer Coolidge doing a superb take on Barbara Streisand.  She comes across almost as annoying as the real thing.  Now THAT takes some serious effort.  The writers should have had her make a whiny speech about the plight of the working class and then fly off to make a movie in Canada so she can avoid paying union wages.  At least there would have been ONE laugh.

I stop and think about how much time and effort it takes to get a movie from the back of a writer’s brain to the big screen, and all I can do is wonder why somebody somewhere didn’t throw up a red flag.  Who knows what scripts were passed over to get this thing made?

My advice:  if you have a date, skip this movie.  You’ll have a better chance of scoring if you watch outtakes from Freddy Got Fingered.

Video ***1/2

Nothing wrong with the anamorphic transfer…Fox’s DVD shines with bright colors, strong details and crisp images throughout, whether the scenes are light or dark.  I didn’t notice any grain or compression to mar the experience.

Audio ***1/2

The soundtrack is lively and dynamic, thanks to plenty of hip-hop hits keeping the energy going.  There are moments that bring the rear stage into play nicely, but frankly, I’d rather not describe them.

Features ****

The disc is jam packed with extras, including a commentary by co-writers Aaron Seltzer and Jason Fiedberg (Seltzer directed), and one from the stars, but I admit, I didn’t listen to much of them.  I really didn’t want to sit through a second viewing.  Suffice to say, they offered no apologies for the hour and a half they stole from me.

More intriguing is a film critics’ commentary from Los Angeles critics Scott Foundas and Bob Strauss.  One sort-of liked it…the other felt about like me.

There are 12 deleted/extended scenes, dailies, a Fox Movie Channels special, audition tapes, a set-top game, optional laugh track (probably lifted from a screening of a different movie), a gag reel, and an option to view the movie in six minutes.  Why, oh why didn’t I discover that one first?

Summary:

If you’re looking for bright, funny, romantic fun, you can’t get much farther away from it than Date Movie.  You’re not gonna laugh til you cry with this one.  You’ll just cry.

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