Simply put, Date Movie is awful. When spoof films are at their best-think Naked Gun and Airplane-they upset cinematic conventions in a way that will resonate with viewers long into the future. Rather than making actual jokes, Date Movie is simply satisfied with referencing pop culture. The problem with this strategy, and with Date Movie as a whole, is the media trends that were current when they wrote the script have already ceased to be relevant.
In the film, Julia Jones (Alyson Hannigan) is a well-meaning overweight woman who falls in love with a British man, Grant Fonckyerdoder (Adam Campbell). She loses weight, goes on a dating show where she meets Grant again, and they proceed to fall in love. Julia's parents hate Grant. Grant's ex-fiancée hates Julia. These conflicts are largely unimportant, however, because they just sort of solve themselves as the movie ends.
The date movie is a Hollywood standard; they've been made for decades. Anyone familiar with movie biz uber-mensch Robert Evans will know that he believes he created the genre with Love Story. Date movies go back further than that, but Love Story was made to motivate couples to go home and get romantic in the privacy of their bedrooms. After seeing Date Movie, I didn't even feel like eating dinner. Neither did the young woman I took with me to see the film.
Given that the writers of this film are two of the six who devised Scary Movie, one goes in expecting the referential scope to consist of whatever was on TV the day they wrote it. There is the standard Say Anything riff, but it's infused with a reference to iPods in a lazy attempt at relevance. Reality TV gets hit when the protagonist goes to West Coast Customs in order to be pimped out, then when she is a contestant on a dating show that ends with a shooting spree. There is also a rather bad Michael Jackson joke, and a spoof of Paris Hilton's Carl Jr.'s commercial. It's like a year-old Best Week Ever episode in which all of the jokes have been replaced by more bestiality gags than one can readily digest.
Classic romantic comedies like Love Story, Pretty Woman, and anything made in the '80s that starred John Cusack were either seriously-written romances that are just cheesy enough to watch or decently written comedies that keep the hope of "true love" alive. Date Movie doesn't come close to either of these concepts. It's a parody of pop culture today, with a sprinkling of jokes involving romantic movies of the last decade. Parody has to be consistent to work. When it strays, or is illegitimate to the original, it loses its value. To learn more about why Date Movie should be hated in the metaphysical and postmodern sense, feel free to read Jacques Derrida until your head hurts. Otherwise, just generally avoid this film. For your own sake, don't go seeking laughs. For the sake of your social calendar, do not go with a date. Rent Love Story with a date and make fun of it together. You'll get a better sense of what this film should have been-and you might actually get laid.
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