I can be unforgiving when it comes to romance films, the carbs of my motion picture diet, but I’ll take a shitty romantic comedy over an even shittier parody of romantic comedies any day. Whether you loathe or love the genre, there’s nothing that can justify the torture of Date Movie, and you’ll be screaming for a Katherine Heigl marathon by the end of it. That is if you make it through the seventy-three minute run time. I wanted to bail twenty minutes in, fed up with the sexist fat shaming and the general laziness of this brain cell zapper.
Having seen Epic Movie, brought to you by the same crack producing-directing-writing team, I was primed to enter a different plane of filmmaking, the one that makes Gigli look like an Orson Welles classic. My expectations were more than met in the opening scenes in which obese and lonely Julia Jones (Alyson Hannigan) rocks her milkshake in order to bring all the boys to the yard. Not wanting to end up an old cat lady, she bursts out of her house and decides to find herself a man. The idea that full figured woman dancing in the street would cause a guy to nail gun himself in the head or firefighters to repel her with a water hose is offensive no matter how you look at it. And just to drive the point home, a desperate Julia then goes to a matchmaker who rejects her on sight, later helping her out of an uncommon pity. And if you’re still not convinced where the filmmakers stand on the attractiveness of larger women and how deserving they are of romance, Julia gets a makeover à la Pimp My Ride from a team of male mechanics eager to trade hot rods for upgraded hotties.
The degradation doesn’t end there though. To call this film a rip-off is generous. The movie lifts scenes, lines, and characters from over two dozen films and television shows, gives them a shoddy retouch, and then chucks them back out, letting things fall where they may. There is a plot to be sure. Julia finds love with Grant Fockyerdoder (Adam Campbell) on a reality show, and they quickly become engaged. The nuptials are threatened, however, when she discovers that his former flame (Sophie Monk) still has her eyes, and other body parts, on Grant.
I could mention that Julia aspires to be a Harvard-trained pastry chef instead of a waitress at her father’s Greek Restaurant, or that her very mixed race family points to some refreshing casting choices, or that Jennifer Coolidge does a mean Barbara Streisand. But that’s inconsequential in light of this great meaningless train wreck. Few of the parodies show any awareness of scene, tone, character, or any other quality that makes a romantic comedy memorable. Grant replicates Meg Ryan’s famous diner orgasm for no other reason that to make ordering a steak look funny. It’s not. Nor is Mr. Jinx, the toilet-using cat from Meet the Parents, more entertaining when he has a bad case of diarrhea. The movie strains to make us laugh, maybe even to get us to fill out Bingo cards and have some good drunken fun. But crying or punching walls seems the more appropriate response.
Prod: Jason Friedberg, Paul Schiff
Dir: Aaron Seltzer
Writer: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Cast: Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Jennifer Coolidge, Tony Cox, Fred Willard, Eddie Griffin, Sophie Monk, Carmen Electra
Time: 82 min
Country: United States