The Rookie Reviews: Date Movie

PLEASE NOTE: This review will contain plot spoilers to not only the movie reviewed but also every movie referenced, even slightly, in the new film "Date Movie." If you haven't yet seen "Sleepless in Seattle," "The Runaway Bride," "Napoleon Dynamite," "Scary Movie 1,2,and 3," "Hitch," "Pretty Woman," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," "Meet the Parents," "Meet the Fockers," "Wedding Crashers," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "What Women Want," "Bridget Jones' Diary," "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days," or "King Kong," you may want to call in sick and buy a 5-pound pail of popcorn with butter flavor before you read the review.

In Greek plays, the comic character is usually scripted to carefully point out how the main character has been taking him/herself too seriously, in ways the character will miss but the audience will understand (and laugh at.) It's fortunate for us that with all the other changes we've made to our society since those days, the comic character's job remains mostly the same.

In my never-ending quest to "be Isaac" (full of laughter, in Hebrew) in the world, I went out tonight to see "Date Movie." You need the disclaimer right away: Do not see this movie with students. Do not tell your senior pastor you went to see this movie. If possible, go and see this movie in another town. (I did that, but only because my movie gift card was for a theatre out in Crestwood.) Do not expect this movie to have theological implications. Do not expect it to change lives for Jesus no matter how many Bible verses you connect it to. But go and see it.

Julia, an overweight but optimistic woman, decides her love life has been on hold too long, that "my knight in shining armor is out there somewhere, and I'm going to find him!" In the family restaurant where she works, she meets a customer, has an electric-eye-contact moment with him and distractedly knocks him off his chair with a coffeepot. Never let anyone say first impressions matter. Desperate to improve her image, she visits a date doctor, Hitch, who takes her to a body shop (think "American Chopper" or "Pimp My Ride") for a makeover, then sets her up on a reality dating show where the eligible bachelor is the man from the diner, Grant (although it's "Grahnt" with his practically required English accent.) After choosing Julia on the show, the two of them meet each other's families, including an oddly talented cat, and begin to plan their wedding. Enter Grant's former fiancee from "ages ago" and the man Julia's father would rather have her marry, and stick them all in one small restaurant for a very revealing rehearsal dinner. The couple wants to find out all about each other, the old fiancee wants to break the whole thing up, the parents wouldn't mind helping, and there is indeed one magical ingredient that will cure anything. Put in the videotapes of "Meet the Parents" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" side by side, watch one with each eye, and you'll have the story and save money too. There are certain things you know will happen in a movie like this: the two characters will fall in love in a ridiculously short time; a crisis will tear them apart; a new solution will be thought of and abandoned, and in the end the wedding will go on. If you go in expecting the formula, you will find it.

The PG-13 rating on "Date Movie" is something to take seriously. I noted (and the official notes on IMDB back me up) pretty much nonstop sexual humor, a fairly high level of crude language, and some random violence.

Whenever a movie genre spends too much time on screen, some clever hacks (in this case, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Selzter) rush a script into production that reminds audiences that life is funny, and so are the things we do to cope with it or add flavor to it. Reality TV, any commercial starring Jessica Simpson, family relationships and even weddings themselves take a lot of predictable and cliched hits in this film. Of course they do. The whole point of a movie like this is to show us what's become stereotyped and dare us to use our imaginations again.

The reviews I've read so far have been scathing and laced with saw blades, but I think there's some value in "Date Movie." Forgetting to laugh at ourselves is a killer in the field of youth ministry, and I think we could all use an evening to sit back and poke at the world looking for places we might need to see with fresh eyes.

"Date Movie" opened in theatres Friday, February 17th.

1 comment:

Esther said...

I am glad that someone I know went to see that movie. I've been considering watching it in the back of my mind becasue I enjoy parodies or satire and it looked really funny from the previews.

Elizabethtown is a rather creative chick/date movie that's very good (or so I thought) if you haven't seen it.