Everyone knows a guy who stands around at parties, telling jokes to any non-deaf person unfortunate enough to be in his general vicinity. You can hear his punch lines coming a mile away. His one-liners are as lifeless as Rodney Dangerfield's corpse. His celebrity impersonations are so off you can't even tell what person he's impersonating. When he feels as though he's losing your attention, he starts making fart noises with his armpits. Or worse, he starts telling sex jokes, even though it's apparent he hasn't been laid since the Carter administration. Now imagine what would happen if this guy got to make a movie.
It would probably be a lot like Date Movie, one of the unfunniest "comedies" to assault multiplexes since the introduction of sound to cinema. The film is being advertised as a cousin of sorts to the Scary Movie series, since it shares two of the same writers and, for a second or two, Carmen Electra. But that franchise, as uneven and desperate as it is, looks like Monty Python in comparison to this dreck. You'd have to be emerging from a 20-year coma, or from a primitive culture that doesn't have moving, projected images, to enjoy something this aggressively laugh-free.
As the title may indicate, Date Movie claims to be a send-up of everything from The Wedding Planner to Meet the Parents. American Pie veteran Alyson Hannigan whose lifeless performance in this movie effectively erases any good work she's ever done plays an overweight frump who gets a makeover and attracts the man of her dreams. This thread of a plot is intended to be a spoof of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Shallow Hal, but the filmmakers don't really bother to make fun of romantic comedies: They just reuse their jokes. The cat-on-the-toilet gag from Meet the Parents is repeated here, and just because it lasts about five minutes doesn't make it any funnier.
This is a movie that doesn't even bother with setups or punchlines, just the long, boring middle parts of jokes. The directors assume that by slapping something, anything, up on the screen a bad Napoleon Dynamite look-alike, an old lady, a midget the audience will laugh. Wow, fat people sure are funny. Gay people are even funnier. Fat, gay people are, like, funny-squared. Meanwhile, Hannigan stands there like a bobble-head doll, as if the only way they could coax a reaction shot out of her was by waving a paycheck in front of her face. Whatever you do, don't encourage her by contributing money to Date Movie.
Michael Hastings writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].