Date Movie review by Mike Long

In 1980, the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team unleashed a new kind of spoof comedy on the world with Airplane!. Since then, there have been many imitators who have taken up this literal kind of comedy in which a movie directly pokes fun at another movie or something form popular culture. When done correctly (Airplane!, the Naked Gun films, or Scary Movie 3), this kind of comedic film can be very funny. But, when placed in the wrong hands, the results can be disastrous. And Date Movie is a bigger disaster than the one which Airplane! spoofs.

"Plot" is a concept which is wholly unheard of in Date Movie, but I'll try to describe what happens in the movie. Alyson Hannigan stars as Julia Jones, an overweight woman who works as a waitress in her parent's Greek restaurant. Julia dreams of finding true love, but is convinced that she'll grow old working for her parents. Seeking the help of a matchmaker, Julia is able to lose a lot of weight and meets Grant (Adam Campbell). The two immediately fall in love, and despite the fact that they come from different backgrounds, decide to get married. However, Julia is very intimidated by Grant's ex-girlfriend, Andy (Sophie Monk), who will be attending the wedding. Can Julia get over her anxieties and experience true love?

One of the most interesting things about reviewing DVDs is that I've often heard reviews from other critics during the film's theatrical run. I've found that if a movie has been lambasted by critics that I typically disagree. That's not the case with Date Movie. For once, the critics were right.

Date Movie is a painfully unfunny spoof that fails to capture the spirit, essence, or understanding of the classic spoofs. Anyone who's seen a Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker movie know that they throw as many jokes at the audience as possible, knowing that some of them will stick. Date Movie takes this same approach, but unfortunately, the jokes simply aren't funny. As with Scary Movie 3, Date Movie makes fun of specific scenes from specific movies. But, the movie takes these specific moments and only tweaks them slightly, introducing the most obvious and clichéd jokes possible to the audience. In short, there’s no creativity here. The “jokes” are ideas that your little brother could have come up with, and I don’t know about you, but that’s not what I’m looking for when I see a movie. The makers of Date Movie don’t seem to understand that making fun of or satirizing an existing is a subtle art and that simply changing a word from a movie or having a look-alike isn’t funny.

The only admirable quality about Date Movie is the sheer amount of movies that it spoofs. By way of example, again sighting Scary Movie 3, that film spoofs The Ring, Signs, and 8 Mile, while lampooning some other movies along the way. Date Movie attempts to make fun of nearly every romantic-comedy that has been released in the past 20 years. (I could list some of the movies referenced in Date Movie, but that would just be an excuse to make this review longer.) Once one realizes that the movie isn’t going to be funny or entertaining, the only point in watching Date Movie is to see if you can name every movie that they are satirizing. Though, this raises another problem with the movie. If you haven’t seen the movies being spoofed, then you probably won’t get the jokes. And as nearly every scene represents another movie, then some viewers may find themselves very lost during the movie. Some of the parodies (especially the final scene) appear to have been tacked on just before release.

Spoof movies have made fun of action movies, adventure movies, horror films, and science-fiction movies, so romantic comedies were certainly ripe for lampooning. Unfortunately, Date Movie totally misses the mark and is remarkably unfunny. The movie is certainly game at prodding as many movies as possible, but any attempt at humor is missed and the movie actually sucks the comedy out of scenes from movies which were originally funny. Even sadder is the marketing scheme for Date Movie, which proclaims “From 2 of the 6 Writers of Scary Movie“, which most likely leads most to ask, “It took 6 people to write Scary Movie?”

Date Movie fails to be funny on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and somewhat clear, although there is a mild amount of grain in some of the brighter scenes. The colors look very good, as the film features a bright palette loaded with pastels. There is some noticeable artifacting on the image at times, but not enough to be distracting. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track offers clear dialogue and sound effects with no distortion. The surround sound and bass effects are most notable during the musical numbers, especially the opening scene. The stereo effects are fine, but the bulk of the sound is reserved for the center channel.

Date Movie has come to DVD in two versions, one being the PG-13 theatrical cut and the other being an unrated cut. The unrated cut runs about 2 minutes longer and was the versions screened for this review. But, as I didn't see the film in the theater, I can't comment on what's been added.

The Date Movie contains a wide range of extras. The DVD features three audio commentaries. The first has writer/director Aaron Seltzer and writer Jason Friedberg. This is a fairly standard commentary, as the pair talk about the making of the film, including the fact that they shot a short piece with Alyson Hannigan as a way to pitch the movie (why isn’t this on the DVD?). The second commentary has actors Alsyon Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Sophie Monk, Valerie Ortiz, and Tony Cox. As with most actor-centric commentaries, the participants here seem unsure of what they should be talking about, so they mainly comment on the on-screen action and discuss their experiences with the movie. The final commentary is labeled as an “Anti-commentary” and features film critics Scott Foundas and Bob Strauss. This is a very interesting commentary as the two critics, one of whom liked the film and the other who hated it, talk about where the movie succeeds and fails. (Interestingly, the participants aren’t allowed to mention certain characters or films and when they do, it’s bleeped out.) There is an additional dialogue track which is essentially a “Laugh Track” like those used on sit-coms. Why?

With “On Dating” (4 minutes), he cast talk about their real-life dating experiences. “The Quickie” is the entire film shown in six minutes. Again, why? (Actually, I recommend watching the movie this way.) The DVD contains 12 “Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes” which encompass about 18 minutes. Like the film itself, they aren’t funny. “Fun with Casting” (3 minutes) offers an audition tape montage for many cast members. “Making a Spoof” is an 18-minute featurette which spoofs Peter Jackson’s King Kong Diaries with Adam Campbell as Jackson. I honestly didn’t get any of this. The extras are rounded out with a “Gag Reel” (3 minutes) and three “TV Spots” for the movie plus the “International Trailer”.

1 out of 10 Jackasses

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