One filthy piece of trash hurled without shame from “two of the six writers of ‘Scary Movie,'” this latest spoof takes aim at Hollywood’s treasured horde of chick flicks and makeout media — and misses.
Most of the films parodied — from “Bridget Jones” to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” — far outsmart the silly, dim-witted attempts of “Date Movie” to belittle them. And while it does toss around minimal humor, mostly of fart-joke caliber, “Date Movie” fails to pile up as many laughs as 2001’s similar but superior “Not Another Teen Movie.”
Alyson Hannigan (Willow from “Buffy,” flute-girl from “American Pie”) dons a fat suit and Lane Bryant sweats to play Julia Jones, an over-waitress looking for true love. And though her father insists that she marry a “Greek Indian Japanese Jew,” she instead latches on to Grant Fonckyerdoder, a dreamy blond Brit (no, not Jude Law, but Adam Campbell) who literally falls for her inner beauty. Nevertheless, justifiably insecure Julia seeks help from midget date-doctor Hitch, who, with the help of his crew, gets her “pimped out” with a new and improved ass. Julia then reunites with Grant on an episode of “Extreme Bachelor Desperate Edition,” and the two are ready to krump dance down the aisle.
But first, Julia and Grant must meet each other’s dysfunctional, multi-cultural parents. Mr. Jones is a “Greek” restaurateur (black comedian Eddie Griffin) married to a Hindu princess. The Fonckyerdoders, obviously modeled after the titular parents in “Meet the Fockers,” are embodied by a slimy, shirtless Fred Willard and an on-the-nose Barbara-impersonation mastered by the always-funny Jennifer Coolidge. The in-laws disagree about whether the wedding should happen or not, but an easy solution is reached when the Fonckyerdoders agree to fund the festivities.
Parents momentarily appeased, a whole new can of worms is opened when Grant’s “best man” and ex-girlfriend Andy (sexy vixen Sophie Monk) arrives with the ill-concealed intention to steal him back. Cue the wet, sudsy car-wash scene reminiscent of Denise Richards in “Wild Things” (1998) and the promise of a cat-fight between Julia and Andy, and the rest is tasteless history.
By default, “Date Movie” has its moments of entertaining silliness. No one can help but laugh at the obese Julia as she “milkshakes” and cartwheels down a crowded street, or deny the appeal of an occasional Star Jones joke and Jennifer Coolidge’s phlegmatic, Yiddish exclamations. But watching a cat-puppet groan as it defecates in the toilet, or seeing that same cat lick the charred fingers of a half-cremated corpse, does not exactly engender a smile.
Nor do the lackluster spoofs of countless other films, which generally play out like rejected MAD TV sketches rather than original bits of light satire. The problem could also be a result of the choice of films to be spoofed — films like “Legally Blonde” and “Meet the Parents,” which are, like parodies, self-consciously ridiculous and intentionally distanced from reality. Poking fun at them, especially in a generic, predictable way, is pointless since they have already poked fun at themselves.
Among the few strengths of “Date Movie” is its soundtrack of familiar hits. From Journey’s “Open Arms” to the Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha,” pop music blares and crassly complements the fizzling low-brow humor, while providing sing-along scenes that do little for creative merit, but at least prevent the comatose members of the audience from dying.
The way that “Date Movie” jumps from one lampoon to another so quickly also gives it a kind of improvised, stand-up comedy feel, as if the performers, sensing the audience’s blase reaction, quickly retry to provision junk food humor. At one point, Julia is knocked against a power breaker, thereby gaining the power to hear everyone’s inner thoughts, a la “What Women Want,” and, relating to the audience perhaps more than she means to, expresses her frustration at being “trapped in a bad Mel Gibson movie.” But seconds later, and for seemingly no reason, her powers are lost, and the film switches to a yellow-jumpsuit-sporting, “Kill Bill”-esque swordfight, failing, once again, to be either funny or smart.
Insufficiently supplied with intelligence, “Date Movie” is a few laughs short of being humorous, and three letters short of being the “shiznit.” May it serve only to remind everyone of an old adage: Six “Scary Movie” writers are better than two.