Date Movie / Dustin Rowles
Film Reviews | May 12, 2006 | Comments ()
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this week’s eye-gouging Pajibical experience, Date Movie, let’s give it some historical context: 10 years ago, Wes Craven gave us Scream, a reasonably intelligent satire for the time, which capitalized largely on the horror movie formula that Craven helped to create in A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes, The People Under the Stairs , et al. Four years later, the Wayans Brothers gave us Scary Movie, a mediocre parody of the tired crop of movies that had grown out of the Scream franchise. Buoyed by the $200 million success of its original installment, the Wayans returned again a year later with Scary Movie 2, a failed attempt to parody a parody that mostly just ended up as an excuse to stick a penis in someone’s ear, call it comedy, and slap a $10 admission fee on it. Two years after that, David Zucker attempted to breathe new life into his own brand of Naked Gun-style parodies with Scary Movie 3, yet another failed attempt to spoof the new wave of tired, Shyamalan-inspired twist thrillers and resurrect the career of Leslie Nielsen, who himself was responsible for influencing the brand of brain-dead zaniness that led to the original Scary Movie.
Meanwhile, in another genre entirely, 1989 brought us the modern romance, When Harry Met Sally, featuring Meg Ryan’s orgasmic overacting and a semi-likable view of men, women, and relationships. Sally, of course, begat an endless string of trite romantic comedies pairing Meg Ryan with Tom Hanks, Kevin Kline, Nick Cage, Matthew Broderick, Andy Garcia, and Hugh Jackman, none of which fully captured the soundtrack-infused appeal of Hollywood’s new wunderkind, Cameron Crowe, who actually perfected the romantic comedy over a 10-year period before being crushed under the weight of his own reputation and the obnoxiously grating acting talents of Kirsten Dunst in last year’s Elizabethtown.
At the height of Crowe’s powers, along came There’s Something About Mary, the modern gross-out comedy, which everyone loved in 1998 but hates now, because it became ultimately responsible for nearly everything that’s come out since, including the self-abusing Meet the Parents and its sequel, Meet the Fockers, a horrid, unintentional parody of its predecessor. All of which, give or take a Wedding Crashers or a My Best Friend’s Wedding, brings us to the present, i.e., Date Movie, or: Where everything in the aforementioned paragraphs intersects on the other side of the Yellow Wood.
Date Movie is about what you’d expect, namely the highest form of pain allowed under law without a proper anesthetic. In fact, I’d be willing to suggest that, had James Frey written in his memoir that he’d sat through its entirety without an arsenal of painkillers, no one would’ve believed him in the first place, saving us all from Oprah’s confrontational antics, a series of editorials on the truth of fiction (where is Hunter Thompson when you need him), and countless Scary Movie-style parodies that have erupted on these very Internets.
Date Movie stars band camp girl and “Buffy” sidekick extraordinaire, Alyson Hannigan, who plays Julia Jones (a needless cognomen-hybrid of Julia Roberts and Bridget Jones), an obese, forlorn waitress and offspring of Eddie Griffin, the comedic genius behind Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo. Jones can’t seem to manage a date, no doubt because she’s wearing a hideous fat suit and seems to be stuck in the year’s most painful theatrical experience (seriously, it was all I could do not to sneak off into Eight Below for a second viewing), so she enrolls the assistance of Hitch, an angry, black midget (Bad Santa’s Tony Cox), who gives her a mouthful of Ebonics and a “Pimp My Ride”-style makeover, which entails a musical montage of gross-out sequences that have less to do with comedy than with the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach after you’ve been given a dollar to drink a concoction of refrigerator condiments and a raw egg.
Through the exploitation of an acutely appalling “Bachelor” parody, Jones meets Grant Fonckyerdoder, a daft Hugh Grant talk-alike who actually resembles a floppy-headed Brian McFayden, though he lacks the monotone charisma of “Beauty and the Geek“‘s original host. The two eventually consummate their relationship while a geriatric piece of ass looks on, and ultimately decide to get married, which blends into both a Meet the Parents and Fockers parody, which features (I won’t lie to you, people) a cat who takes a diarrheic shit in the family lavatory before fucking the rotten remains of Jones’ grandmother at the dinner table. How’s that for comedy, huh?
Unbelievably, Date Movie actually devolves from that point on, throwing out tedious exercises in spoofery, sending up My Big Fat Greek Wedding, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Wedding Crashers, and The Wedding Planner and, once the wedding movies are exhausted, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Kill Bill, What Women Want, a Shakira video, the Paris Hilton burger commercial, and Say Anything, which is as close as you can get to sacrilege where this critic is concerned. Certainly, Aaron Seltzer (apparently the least talented amongst the inept writers of the original Scary Movie) is familiar with romantic comedies but, as we all know, familiarity breeds contempt, and in this case that contempt is borderline homicidal. In fact, the only allusion missing from Date Movie is a welcome homage to Final Destination, in which the director, those two-out-of-the-six writers of Scary Movie, and the entire cast have their heads pumped full of Silly Putty until the entire production ends in an explosive confetti of “Beatle Bailey” newsprint and brain matter.
Now that’s a movie I’d pay to see.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York.