Think of the success stories we’ve heard about certain American filmmakers. Director Robert Rodriguez lent his body to science so that he could finance his first feature film El Mariachi. There is the story of Edward Burns, whose script for The Brothers McMullen was refused by almost everyone in Hollywood, then finally acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures and released at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival. These are directors and writers who pushed themselves to the finish line after experiencing the long wait for someone to see light in their work.
Date Movie is a comedy written by two of the six writers responsible for Scary Movie. The story follows a hopeless romantic, Julia Jones (Alyson Hannigan), who spends her days as a waitress at her father’s (Eddie Griffin) Greek diner, waiting for mister right. One fateful morning Julia finally meets the man of her dreams; a debonair Brit named Grant Fonckyerdoder (Adam Campbell). What follows is a scene in which Julia undergoes an absurd makeover, going from a plump figure to that of a model. Imagine her long toenails being filed with a tool used by mechanics. The joke (if you can call it a joke) is based on the show Pimp My Ride, which takes ordinary vehicles and vividly customizes them. This scene, like nearly all scenes in Date Movie, fails to call up any laughs whatsoever.
When Grant and Julia decide to marry, Grant’s ex-girlfriend Andy (Sophie Monk), enters the picture. A series of unfortunate events ensue, which include Andy’s plans to spoil Julia’s wedding and win over Grant’s heart again.
In the tradition of the Scary Movie franchise, Date Movie relies on the idea of parodying other existing well-known films (romantic movies in this case) such as My Best Friend’s Wedding, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Kill Bill, and Meet the Fockers. But since when is Kill Bill considered to be a ‘date movie’?
However, credit must be given where it is due. The writers, Andy Seltzer and Jason Friedberg, do actually include two or three humorous scenes. One of them involves a miniature version of Will Smith’s character in Hitch (Tony Cox). Little Hitch reveals to Julia some of the celebrity couples he paired. Another funny moment has to do with an actual store sign. Watch for the scene where Julia visits a shop to try on wedding gowns. The sign reads: “Best Bride.” That aside, we’re left to wonder how a major studio like 20th Century Fox ever agreed to produce such a discourteous, detestable, and frivolous film.
Jennifer Coolidge as Julia’s mother imitates Barbara Streisand’s character from Meet the Fockers with exactness, and even Alyson Hannigan shows signs that she wants the movie to work. The actors cannot save a film that stands on quicksand and sinks deeper with every passing minute. The ending scene features a cameo appearance by model/actress Carmen Electra who performs a King Kong parody. This moment represents the film’s final attempt to be diverse and amusing. Alas, not even the last scene evokes any laughter.
Modern cinema is in need of fresh writers like Rodriguez and Burns, who want to succeed in the business and who demonstrate talent and originality. Hollywood can free two spots by simply replacing the writers of Date Movie. This comedy is rude, lame-brained, and an embarrassing experience at the movies.