Dir. Aaron Seltzer, US, 2006, 83 mins
Cast: Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Jennifer Coolidge, Tony Cox
Review by Michael Blyth
Considering Date Movie marks director Aaron Seltzer’s fifth foray into the unrefined world of the spoof genre (following writing credits on Spy Hard and the Scary Movie trilogy), one cannot help feel that by now he really should know better. Sticking firmly to the tried and tested methods of those previous films, Seltzer and co-writer Jason Friedberg have this time turned their attention to the romantic comedy genre, although anything which resembles an authentic send-up on the genre is sorely lacking, and it is indolent stereotyping and blundering toilet humour that remain the order of the day.
Julia Jones (Hannigan) is an overweight singleton desperately looking for love. In an attempt to find the man of her dreams, she visits relationship expert Hitch, who gives her a full body makeover. The new, slim Julia enters a reality TV dating show, where she meets and falls in love with Grant (Campbell). But true love proves more complicated than Julia had suspected, and as the couple plan their dream wedding, they face obstacles from Julia’s disapproving parents and Grant’s scheming ex-lover.
Given the rigidly formulaic nature of most contemporary rom-coms, Date Movie is staggeringly inept when it comes to utilising the characteristics of the genre for comic effect. As with the Scary Movie series, parody is repeatedly confused for mere referencing, and it is assumed that to allude to a particular film is the satisfactory requirement for spoofing. Seltzer often simply restages scenes from films such as Meet the Parents or My Best Friend’s Wedding, throwing in an asinine insinuation toward incest or bestiality in an attempt to offer something new. In one scene Julia’s prospective father-in-law greets her by seductively kissing her neck, while elsewhere we witness an old lady engaging in a wet and lengthy smooch with her pet cat. Meanwhile, leaden gags concerning Kill Bill or King Kong have nothing to do with the romantic-comedy spoof pretence and are so poorly written they often fail to make any sense. Such scenes feel mindlessly tacked on in a reckless attempt to cover as much ground as possible, in what soon descends into a desperate comic free-for-all.
But while the relentless tendency toward gross-out sex gags is a disheartening enough prospect, it is in its mean-spirited stereotyping that the film most consistently grates. All minority groups are victim to the puerile minds of Seltzer and Friedberg, but thankfully the jokes are played out with such impressive incompetence that for the most part the film struggles to actually offend. However, the opening sequence which sees Hannigan don a fat suit and dance seductively in the street to the horror of the male onlookers, is unforgivably derisory in its unpleasant assumption that overweight females serve only as a source of visual repellence for the male gaze. The writers are inviting audiences to do nothing more than snigger at the image of a large woman, and in doing so expose not only the disrespect they must share for their audiences, but also their own sneering spitefulness.
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Fox Home Entertainment have announced the UK Region 2 DVD release of Date Movie for 17th July 2006 priced at £19.99. Alyson Hannigan stars in this parody of romantic comedies brought to you by two of the six writers of Scary Movie.
Presented on DVD in its extended cut features include:
- Anamorphic Widescreen
- English DD5.1 Surround
- English HOH subtitles
- Audio commentary by writer Jason Friedberg and writer/director Aaron Seltzer
- Cast audio commentary by Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Sophie Monk, Tony Cox and Valery Oritz
- Anti-commentary by Scott Foundas and Bob Strauss
- Laugh Track
- ‘On Dating’ feature
- Deleted scenes x 12
- 2 Romantic screensavers
- Andy’s Cherry Surprise (set top game)
- Gag reel
- ‘Fun with casting’ feature
- Fox Movie Channel Presents ‘Making A Spoof’