Date Movie
directed by Aaron Seltzer
(20th Century Fox, 2006)

Spoof movies can be a lot of fun. They can also be one of the most nail-bitingly horrible ways to spend 90 minutes in front of a screen. And, often, because of the cunning way that movie trailers are made and marketed, it's hard to tell the good from the bad unless you commit yourself to the time and watch it for yourself.

Date Movie, starring the delightfully witty, pretty and talented Alyson Hannigan, sucks.

The film begins with Julia Jones (Hannigan in a fat suit) looking for the right man, preferably one of African/Greek/Indian/Japanese/Jewish descent to meet her parents' strict family requirements. The scene with fat Julia dancing and jiggling her way around town trying to impress the men she sees is funny -- in a sort of sad and overblown kind of way -- but I believe that was the only scene in the movie that got me to laugh, and that was in the first few minutes.

Julia hires a dating expert/ob-gyn/dentist/preacher to help her find her love, but first she must endure a "body shop" reinvention that frankly put my wife off her food -- but transformed the star back to her slight and perky self. From there, it doesn't seem like she'd have too much trouble winning a man, but Date Movie throws in an overabundance of dumb jokes and sight gags that never make you laugh.

It'd probably be quicker to try and name the films (romantic comedies, mostly) this movie did not parody than it would be to list the ones it did. The problem is, it didn't parody any of them well. It also seems less important to list the actors in this movie than it does to list the ones they're trying to be: Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand, Jennifer Lopez, Clive Owen, Ben Stiller, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Kevin Federline, Marilyn Monroe, Meg Ryan, Paris Hilton, Uma Thurman and so on, ad infinitum. (Just to be 100 percent clear -- none of the people I just listed are actually in this film, and believe me, not one of them is regretting that particular casting decision ... except maybe Federline, who could probably use the work.)

There are even bits of The Lord of the Rings, King Kong and TV's The Bachelor in the mix, but I'm not sure anyone could explain why. You'll see ample borrowing from Meet the Parents, Meet the Fokkers, Shallow Hal and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. There's also a cat puppet who's given far too much screen time.

So what was Hannigan thinking? Still best known as Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hannigan was also the best thing going in all three American Pie films and made a solid second splash on TV with How I Met Your Mother. She doesn't need the work, and I have to believe she has a more discerning eye than this would indicate. Perhaps she owed director Aaron Seltzer a favor, or maybe she wanted to knock herself down a few pegs to keep her ego in check. Maybe she thinks her rise to fame was too easy and she feels obligated to pay some dues. Whatever the truth, I hope she's come to her senses and puts her talents and charm to better use in the future.

review by
Tom Knapp

28 April 2007

what's new