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`Date Movie' sputters as a spoof

February 20, 2006|Carina Chocano | Times Staff Writer

It won't come as much of a surprise to learn that "Date Movie," which Fox declined to screen in advance for critics, doesn't play well in the theater -- at least not on a Friday morning in Glendale with three people in the audience. Maybe if the theater had been packed with freshly concussed, oxygen-deprived teens on drugs, the scene might have been slightly less funereal. But I doubt it. The teens would have had to be conversant in every rom-com and vomedy produced since 1989 to get the full effect, and it seems unlikely you could gather all those characteristics in a single kid.

Directed by Aaron Seltzer and written by Jason Friedberg & Seltzer, who wrote "Scary Movie," "Date Movie" stars poor, plucky Alyson Hannigan as a Bridget Jones/Nia Vardalos type in Gwyneth Paltrow's fat suit from "Shallow Hal." At her black-Indian-Japanese-Jewish-Greek family diner, she meets and falls in love with a Hugh Grant type (Adam Campbell) called -- you'll never guess what -- Grant Fonckyerdoder.

After a visit to Hitch, the date doctor, and a "Pimp My Ride"-style makeover and liposuction session, she and Grant get together on "The Bachelor" and slog through a string of references to "The Wedding Planner," "Meet the Parents," "Meet the Fockers," "My Best Friend's Wedding" and that commercial where Paris Hilton seduces a hamburger, then eats it.

But, dudes, does a spoof count as a spoof if it's dumber and more obvious than the thing it's spoofing? (Like, what would happen if the toilet-using cat from "Meet the Parents" really, really had to go?) The only thing remotely resembling parody in this depressing waste of time and money is Jennifer Coolidge's sendup of Barbra Streisand as an over-the-top string of Jewish mother cliches.

She's the only remotely likable thing about the film -- that and the generic straightforwardness of the title. But they should have been more honest. They should have called it "Flop."


"Date Movie"

MPAA rating: PG-13 for continuous crude and sexual humor, including language

A 20th Century Fox release. Director Aaron Seltzer. Screenplay Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer. Producers Paul Schiff, Jason Friedberg. Cinematographer Shawn Maurer. Editor Paul Hirsch. Production designer William Elliott. Costume designer Alix Friedberg. Music David Kitay. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

In general release.

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