Date Movie

WFTB Score: 3/20

The plot: Fat and forlorn, Julia Jones turns to professional help to make herself over and get the dream wedding she’s always dreamed of. Could foppish Englishman Grant be the perfect husband? Possibly, but Julia’s parents are opposed to the match, and Grant has a best ‘man’ in Andy who is more than reluctant to give him away.

Poor Julia Jones (Alyson Hannigan). As she tells her diary, she’s overweight, alone and fearful that she’ll spend her days like her elderly neighbour, being more friendly to cats than is usually considered healthy. Working in the Greek restaurant run by her father Frank (Eddie Griffin, black) and mother Linda (Meera Simhan, Indian), Julia catches the eye (and the rest of the head) of blond English patron Grant Fockyerdoder (Adam Campbell); but Frank is only interested in putting forward slobbish cleaner Nicky as a prospective husband.

Julia has other ideas, and with the assistance of diminutive love doctor Hitch (Tony Cox) undergoes a drastic makeover, slimming down and glamming up to appear on TV show The Bachelor. The bachelor in question turns out to be Grant and the couple quickly fall in love, despite his eccentric behaviour in restaurants and Frank’s aggressive objections.

Matters aren’t helped when the Joneses visit the eccentric Fockyerdoders (Fred Willard and Jennifer Coolidge), but a wedding is planned anyway with the assistance of bootylicious Jell-O (Valery Ortiz). However, when Grant’s best friend Andy turns out not only to be a ridiculously hot woman (Sophie Monk) and his ex of just a few weeks, but also intent on getting Grant back, Julia must face both external and internal demons to make her dream come true.

You won’t be at all surprised to hear that this debut directorial effort from two of Scary Movie’s six writers is a mash-up of every romantic comedy you can think of: Meet the Fockers, Hitch, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Wedding Planner, Bridget Jones’ Diary and anything else with Hugh Grant in it, as well as scenes from Legally Blonde, Mr and Mrs Smith, When Harry met Sally, Kill Bill, Napoleon Dynamite and (of course) The Bachelor. Disappointingly, the film fails to do anything meaningful with the material and hopes that more or less reconstructing the scenes from the original source will provide laughs.

Luckily, Hannigan (did she really need the work?) and Campbell (if just for the Pretty Woman skit) are both affable enough, and Coolidge does great work lampooning Streisand’s overbearing Jewish mama from Meet the Fockers. Eddie Griffin also gets a few decent jokes, but that’s about it for the movie’s positives.

So, to the numerous negatives, besides the fact that the majority of the jokes are childish exaggerations of what happens in the original films, with sexist, fattist, dwarfist, misogynist, homophobic or otherwise malign overtones: the hip-hop soundtrack and black culture sensibility would have benefited greatly from some Wayans’ brothers validation; the dig at Jennifer Lopez is indescribably redundant and the one at Michael Jackson the same as Scary Movie 3 made a few years earlier (kick a man while he’s down, won’t you?); everything that Jinxers the cat does is extremely tasteless; and whatever the ‘bumfight’ is a parody of, it’s ghastly – wasn’t A Clockwork Orange vilified for the same thing? Finally, why on Earth go to the expense of extras and sets to do a King Kong parody for the final gag when it’s not only bizarrely out of place, but also a thoroughly lame excuse to wheel out Carmen flipping Electra?

Date Movie has, like every other product from the Seltzer/Friedberg mould (Disaster Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Vampires Suck), been universally derided for its crassness, and there’s absolutely no denying that it’s a terrible film. However, bumfight apart, it’s rarely actively evil, does a good job of recreating the films it spoofs and at least recognises that its target audience of sniggering 12/13 year olds may not have the sophistication of the intended audience of the movies it’s taking off. Infantile rubbish, for sure, but I’d still rather watch this again than Heartbreakers.

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