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Date Movie

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 08/09/06 19:40:32

"No matter how bad you think it might be, it's actually worse."
1 stars (Sucks)

In “Date Movie,” the filmmakers parody the Will Smith romantic comedy “Hitch” by giving us a character named, well, Hitch. You’re kidding, right? This is a new level of stupid for spoof movies; it can’t even bother itself with coming up with a dumb-funny Mad Magazine-style parody name.

This sums up “Date Movie” better than anything else the film has to offer: it’s not smart enough to do anything at all, and more importantly, it doesn’t care.

Taking its cue from the insufferable “Scary Movie” franchise (the success of which still boggles my mind), we don’t get deft parody or clever lampooning, but instead the depressing notion that all you have to do to make one of these films is to slap a bunch of references together and call it a day. Writers Aaron Seltzer (who also directed) and Jason Friedberg previously penned both “Spy Hard” and the first “Scary Movie” (which is worse?), and they bring their complete inability to form new material to this, a film that intends to send up popular romcoms (as well as any other recent movie, like “King Kong,” whenever they run out of date movies to reference) but merely apes their most memorable scenes, adding in a few poop jokes and calling it parody.

The problem, of course, is that you can’t really parody comedy. You can’t poke fun at something that was trying to be fun in the first place; parody comes from mocking the serious. You could, I suppose, do a take off on all the ways some comedies go wrong - the overplayed physical humor, the poorly delivered punchlines - but that would require wit, intelligence, and a deep-rooted understanding of the mechanics of humor. You could also, I again suppose, send up the clichés of the romantic comedy genre. Ah, but that, too, would require effort, and heaven forbid Seltzer and Friedberg actually try something.

Consider the scene that attempts to spoof “Meet the Parents.” In it, our hapless male lead (newcomer Adam Campbell) walks in on a cat using the toilet. Only, see, this cat has diarrhea.

Get it? It’s just like that one scene you saw in that one movie, but with poop! Repeat that idea for a painful seventy-plus minutes, and voilà! “Date Movie.”

At least in that scene, somebody actually bothered to add something. What can we possibly make of the one dream sequence in which a guy dressed up like Ben Stiller from “Dodgeball” runs into a room and throws a rubber ball? Moments like this abound, leaving this not a spoof movie but a mix tape. Throw in an analogy of bad cover songs to that idea and “Date Movie” becomes one of those compilation albums where all your favorite songs are clumsily performed by the Countdown Singers.

I’m not even sure what to make of other bits, like a pseudo-parody of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding;” in that film, the father sprayed Windex on everything, and in this film, the Greek dad (Eddie Griffin, who is contractually obligated to appear in any movie this awful) sprays hummus on everything. Is this a joke? Is this the filmmakers’ idea of what a punchline is supposed to be? “Oh, like, OK, the dad sprayed stuff, and he’s Greek, so let’s give Griffin a bottle of hummus! And then, like, hey, let’s repeat this joke every time we see Griffin! Ha!”

When not attempting to copy gags from other movies, the filmmakers rely on the worst assortment of fart jokes and pratfalls available. There’s a whole opening bit - following a Napoleon Dynamite dream sequence that goes nowhere - in which Alyson Hannigan (who really deserves so much better than to be stuck here) dances seductively while in a fat suit. Because dancing around in a fat suit was what was chosen by Seltzer and Friedberg as the funniest of all possible scenarios. Ouch.

The most depressing aspect of all of this is that one can envision Seltzer and Friedberg laughing hysterically at the notion of, say, dolling Jennifer Coolidge up to look like Barbra Streisand for a “Meet the Fockers” rip-off. (There are no jokes to this. Coolidge merely looks like Babs, repeats a few of her jokes from that film, and that’s it.) The movie plows ahead cheerfully, unaware that it’s completely absent of the slightest laugh. It’s as if the whole thing was written and directed by fifth-graders. (And edited by them, too, if the complete lack of comic timing is any indication.)

The only explanation I can offer in regards to this movie’s mere existence is that somebody felt deeply that they could make a movie worse than all the “Scary Movie” entries combined. “Date Movie” is an empty hole of a film, ceaseless in its tired yuks, merciless in its terribleness. It’s not enough that nobody involved had the understanding of how to craft an effective parody; Seltzer and Friedberg seem to lack the basic know-how required to tell a single joke. This is one of the most incompetently produced studio movies I’ve ever seen - and yes, that includes the other movies these idiots wrote. For a comedy to be worse than “Spy Hard,” well, that’s just a whole new category of dreadful right there.

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