June 2, 2006

Date Movie: Unrated (2006)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

84 mins. · Unrated
16x9 · 1.85:1

Format
DVD

Audio
English – DD 5.1
French – DS
Spanish – DS

Subtitles
English, Spanish

Extras
Commentary Tracks, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Trailer, TV Spots, and More

Starring
Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Eddie Griffin, Fred Willard, Jennifer Coolidge

Review by
Felix Gonzalez, Jr.


Rating



(2006)

First of all, I must address an issue that has been bothering me for some time. Just about every raunchy comedy that has been released within roughly the past five years has gone on to receive a special "unrated" DVD release. In most cases, this is nothing more than a marketing ploy to attract viewers who probably were not interested in the film the first time around. "Date Movie" is a prime example. Originally rated PG-13 (!), there is absolutely nothing in this new unrated version that we have not seen in countless R-rated movies before. In fact, I was astounded at how inoffensive this film turned out to be.

As a fan of zany movie spoofs, I usually get a kick out of admittedly stupid humor. The problem with this film is that there is lots of stupidity—and no humor. The movie follows Julia Jones (Alyson Hannigan), a "Pretty Woman" who is waiting for her dream man. After winning a date with Grant (Adam Campbell) on a reality TV show, she invites him to "Meet the Parents." They decide to have a "Big Fat Greek Wedding," which means seeking advice from Jell-O, "The Wedding Planner" (Valery Ortiz). But when Grant's former fiancée (Sophie Monk) tries to sabotage her "Best Friend's Wedding," Grant wishes Julia would just "Say Anything" before the "Wedding Crashers" arrive.

If this summary sounds like nothing more than a number of film titles strung together, then you've got a pretty good idea of how the movie progresses. Writers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have taken shots at just about every popular romantic comedy in recent memory, but they apparently forgot that every joke needs a punch line. "Date Movie" is so mind-numbingly unfunny that it actually becomes boring. The uncommonly brisk 84-minute running time seems like a veritable eternity.

In the past, we have seen brilliant parodies from the likes of Mel Brooks, Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers. What made their films so great was the seriousness with which they took the material. They played it as straight drama, allowing the humor of the situations to shine through on its own. Friedberg and Seltzer, on the other hand, attack the material so aggressively and drag it on for such insufferably prolonged amounts of time that they kill any potential it ever had to be funny. It's as if they don't trust the audience enough to get the jokes on their own. Even worse is that they fail so miserably at lampooning their chosen subjects that the films they attempt to ridicule look so much better by comparison.

It is also a shame to see such talented actors as Alyson Hannigan, Fred Willard and Jennifer Coolidge trapped in this mess. They try hard to overcome it, but their efforts are all in vain. Watching them struggle to bring some comedic flair to it all is a sad endeavor indeed.

Even the material itself is tired. There is nothing edgy about it, unless you consider an extended scene of feline flatulence edgy. One running gag involves a Jennifer Lopez parody (the afore-mentioned Jell-O) with an enormous posterior. Ms. Lopez has been famous for nearly 10 years, and so has her rump. By this point, we have seen and heard just about every booty joke on the planet, and this gag provokes more eye rolls than laughs.

As for the DVD, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has presented the film in a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. Image quality is decent, boasting fine color saturation and good contrast. Skin tones appear accurate, and the print is mostly free of grain, though a few shots seem slightly marred.

Audio sounds great in a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround track, ensuring we hear every fart and unsavory splatter in all of their gross-out glory. Sound is quite clear on all channels, with no background hiss. The disc features alternate French and Spanish Dolby Surround tracks.

Unfortunately, the supplemental features provided only reinforce how bad the movie is. First up are three audio commentaries, and that's three too many. The first is by writers Seltzer, who also directed, and Friedberg. There is nothing particularly remarkable about this track, until the end when they amusingly (and pathetically) lash out at the film critics who maligned their monumental folly. They even go so far as to call the people who like the film "young and dumb." That's certainly the way to build your fan base.

The second commentary is given by stars Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Sophie Monk, Valery Ortiz and Tony Cox. At one point, they become so desperate for something to talk about that they actually begin discussing the on-set catering.

The third commentary is billed as an "Anti-Commentary." Film critics Scott Foundas and Bob Strauss give their thoughts on the film, basically explaining why it doesn't work. This track is mostly redundant, as anyone who needs such an explanation probably has no business operating a DVD player to begin with.

Next up is an optional laugh track that runs through the entire movie. This curious feature was a wise move on the part of the producers, as these are the only laughs the film is ever likely to receive.

Next we have a trio of featurettes, starting with "On Dating." This totally useless bit features clips from cast interviews where they share stories about their bad dating experiences. "The Quickie" gives viewers a six-minute, sped-up version of the film. Don't get your hopes up. It's just as tedious as the longer version. The last featurette, "Fun With Casting," gives us a look at the cast screen tests. Again, nothing really sensational.

Of course, what would a raunchy comedy be without those deleted and extended scenes? There's nothing to celebrate here, except maybe a few extra minutes of Sophie Monk in a bikini, splashing milk on her face. We also get some footage of Fred Willard and Jennifer Coolidge doing some of their classic improv, but alas, it is much too short.

The disc also provides a couple of romantic screensavers. Why these are included with a film that sets out to mock romantic comedies is beyond me, but there they are.

"Andy's Cherry Stem Surprise" is an interactive game that plays on a memorable scene from the movie involving Sophie Monk and a cherry. There's not much to say about it. It doesn't require much thinking, but then neither did the film.

A gag reel follows, but at a staggering two minutes, even it is disappointing.

Up next is the absolute pinnacle of this release—Fox Movie Channel Presents "Making a Spoof." Sam Hurwitz directed this very funny parody of Peter Jackson's "King Kong" video diaries. Featuring Adam Campbell as Jackson and Carmen Electra as the star, this 18-minute bit is the lone bright spot on an otherwise abysmal release. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer could certainly take a lesson from this short film on how to successfully make a spoof.

A set of promotional material, including a trailer, TV spots and internet clips, thankfully brings an end to this DVD.

"Date Movie" is the latest in a long line of what I like to call frat-boy comedies to plague theater screens. It's loud and obnoxious, but too full of itself to be interesting and not sober enough to be truly offensive. I certainly was not expecting an Oscar winner. What I was expecting was a comedy, and I was sorely disappointed. In conclusion, I must respond to a comment made toward the end of Friedberg and Seltzer's audio commentary. In their misguided attempt to make themselves look like rebels, one of them (by this point I didn't care which one) remarked, "If we end up being number one on the top 10 worst movies of 2006, I take that as a badge of honor because being number one is what it's all about." Well, they can rest assured that it will not top the list of worst films of 2006, because come January, nobody will remember it. And in keeping with the gross-out spirit, "Date Movie" is not number one. It's number two.

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