Let me start by saying I fucking love a good parody. As a child raised on Mel Brooks and Weird Al, I have a deep appreciation for the art of taking something well-known and making something hilarious and irreverent out of it. And two of the writers behind Scary Movie are, if not necessarily gods of the genre, at least well-known for it.So Date Movie, right?I saw this movie once, when it first was on Pay-Per-View; it was 2006, it was really late at night, my mom and I couldn’t sleep at all that week and were staying up late watching whatever shitty thing was on because it was better than staring restlessly at the ceiling, and I don’t remember much about it other than not especially liking it. Typically I feel reviews should be more of a “Here is an overview of what you can expect,” but I’m going to recommend you never, ever watch Date Movie, and here’s a detailed summary as to why.We open with Alyson Hannigan in a fat suit, dreaming of marrying Napoleon Dynamite; he rejects her with repeated use of his annoying catchphrase, and I am reminded why I never got on board the Napoleon Dynamite train. Alyson wakes up, terrified, and takes us on a journey of rom-com clichés—or, specifically, individual scenes and moments lifted almost verbatim from several very specific rom-coms, sans any commentary on the subject matter. We are treated to some Bridget Jones-esque narration, as Alyson Hannigan explains that even though she is boyless, she believes in true love—even though she’s fat.Yeah, strap in, kids, because there’s way more of that than I remembered, and this is the least awful it will ever get.
What follows is perhaps the most famous scene in the film—at least, this is what pops up repeatedly if you type Date Movie into YouTube whilst trying to find a free copy of it: Alyson Hannigan busting out her front door and dancing down the street, smiling vacantly while shaking her (fake) booty to “Milkshake” and trying to get attention from boys. She is met with a series of disturbingly fatphobic images of: a man committing suicide via nail gun after accidentally seeing her bare thigh; a group of firemen attempting to kill her with a hose rather than let her get close to them; an entire town’s worth of men fleeing in terror when she tries to shake the water loose; etc. In case it isn’t clear yet, being fat is not only unattractive, but also grounds for public alarm. Oh, Alyson Hannigan! How silly you are not to know this!
We travel to Alyson’s family’s Greek restaurant (you know, like My Big Fat Greek Wedding! Get it? Because it’s a Greek restaurant? Hilarious!) where we meet her black dad (Eddie Griffin), Indian mom (Meera Simhan), and Gothic Lolita-styled Japanese sister (Marie Matiko), who remind Alyson that she is all of these things and also Jewish, so she has to find someone who is also all of these races. I spend a few minutes wondering if this scene would’ve played a lot better if we acknowledged that the shoe is on the other foot than it was in MBFGW, and her WASP-y family ran a bland White People restaurant and told her she needed to find an appropriately boring Country Club boyfriend, and maybe her dad could spray some Dom Perignon out of his Windex bottle instead of the odd choice of bottled hummus we used for this film, so that it would acknowledge and parody the source material more appropriately instead of creating weird unnecessary racial tension by suggesting Alyson Hannigan is a woman of color…but I wasn’t a screenwriter in 2006, nor am I now, so who cares about my opinion? Oh, and 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander is here? He is also black-Indian-Jewish-Japanese and maybe Greek? But he hates redheads. Lols! Oh, Alyson—will you ever find love?
Then we meet Knockoff Hugh Grant, the blonde one who was the rich boyfriend in Kimmy Schmidt, who might be Male Keira Knightley (IMDB tells me his name is Adam Campbell. Unimportant.) Keiro Knightley is having lunch in the restaurant, and when he sees Alyson, they share a ~*moment.*~ Feeling this may finally be her chance at true love, Alyson seeks the help of date-doctor “Hitch” (Tony Cox) (yes, they failed to bother to do anything with his name or story; he’s literally just a date-doctor named Hitch)—who immediately screams “Hell No,” and informs her he can’t help her—even though he “found Star Jones a husband.” Remember, fat women are disgusting and unlovable, so even a professional date therapist wouldn’t be able to help her fat ass find a boyfriend. To illustrate how disgusting fat people are, Hitch pulls an entire chicken wing from between her teeth while she smiles vacantly, and then she awkwardly licks his face almost exactly like Idina Menzel on that one episode of Rescue Me. For the record, I checked, and that episode aired a full two years before this trash, so I’m not saying that’s what we were going for, but anything’s plausible at this point.
Hitch decides her only hope is to go on a dating reality show—she whines that she has to be “beautiful” to be entered into the competition, probably because the people around her are so good at destroying her self-esteem that she can now smile vacantly while announcing how ugly she finds herself. Hitch takes her to the Pimp My Ride garage, where Alyson giggles as they take power tools to her body, grind off her destroyed toenails, wax her Harry-and-the-Hendersons-esque back, and suction away all of her fat into a jar of “Worst Foods Mayonnaise.” At the end of it, she is Skinny Alyson Hannigan with fancy hair and a nice dress; she is now “good to go.” See, she’s fuckable now, so boys will like her.
In case you’re keeping count, we are now approximately a third of the way into this film, and there have been exactly zero actual jokes.
We arrive on set for the TV show. Blonde Hugh Grant, it turns out, is the Bachelor on this dating show—who woulda guessed?! The host asks Blondie to choose one of the women and eliminate the others—he does so swiftly by pulling out a shotgun and methodically shooting each of them in turn, leaving only Alyson Hannigan, smiling vacantly. I’m angry and uncomfortable, because violence against women just isn’t funny to me; this is the point where my husband, who has been diligently trying to help me watch this turdfest, borrows my headphones and listens to Hamilton while I slog through the rest of this hellswamp by myself. Thanks, Roland.
On their first date, Blondie (after badly imitating the orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally in a bit that goes on for a full 60 seconds longer than we could even pretend was funny) recognizes her as the waitress he met earlier—she admits it was her, but she was ‘downright ugly’ before. It’s okay, because Keiro Knightley never thought she was ugly! He gets a gold star! They celebrate by beating up a homeless man in the park (yes), stealing his liquor, and repeating his terrifying orgasm back at her apartment while her creepy elderly neighbor watches.
Keiro Knightley then heads off to the restroom and discovers her giant “Before” panties, where he almost vomits—so maybe that gold star was premature. He snoops in her medicine cabinet and finds a series of personal care products that freak him out, and screams over the Psycho theme. Because women are expected to look a certain way, but only if we never know how it gets done, because otherwise we’re terrified. Alyson rolls around in bed and smiles vacantly. He decides to stop caring once he finds a product that is useful to him and uses it without permission. Alyson Hannigan asks him if he’d be down to meet her parents. This is good, because we’ve basically run out of plot points to take from MBFGW until the actual wedding bit, so we need to find something else to half-assedly copy without actually elevating, and Meet the Parents becomes the new target.
Turns out this is just a segue into a three-minute scene of a grotesque cat puppet taking a violent, graphic dump. Nothing is funny and I hate everything.
We move on immediately to a scene that is literal dialogue lifted from Meet the Parents, ending in Keiro knocking down an urn containing a full-sized decaying body, which the cat puppet proceeds to French-kiss and dry-hump while everyone looks on in terror. I consider taking a moment to build a time machine and go back several weeks to slap myself in the face repeatedly for considering signing up for Date Movie. At this point I figure it can’t get any worse, so whatever; in for a penny, in for a pound.
Apparently Meet the Parents is boring now, so we take a quick detour through the proposal scene from Sweet Home Alabama (complete with Frodo Baggins trying to pawn the One Ring and kicking Gandalf repeatedly in the dick) and decide to move straight on to Meet the Fockers. Only they’re the Fockyerdodders now. Your groan is my groan. Somehow we get from that to Alyson Hannigan grilling a baby on his sign language (whose fucking baby? Why is this baby here?), wherein he correctly guesses a series of misogynistic flash cards and speaks his first word (“Beeyotch.”) Now I don’t watch a ton of rom-coms, but surely they aren’t all this gross?
But then we meet Blondie’s father, who proceeds to sexually assault Alyson Hannigan while she smiles vacantly, so maybe they were and I’ve just missed it and that’s why we feel the need to make this movie so violently anti-woman?
Enter the ONLY GOOD PART OF THIS MOVIE, Jennifer Coolidge, whose Barbra is so good that for a brief moment I honestly thought it was the real deal—but who then rattles off a series of “Yiddish” words in rapid succession, because we can’t trust that Jennifer Coolidge is a talented enough impressionist on her own and will only get that it’s Babs if we make her stereotypically Jewish. C’est la vie.
After a brief moment of The Wedding Planner-inspired racism wherein a woman named Jell-O dons a thick fake accent and shakes a fake ass the size of a small loveseat at Blondie, we finally meet the real conflict of the film: Blondie’s best man, Andie (apparently this is Sophie Monk but she looks so much like Blonde Mila Kunis that it’s distracting); she is his Big Ex, who likes to swim in full eyeliner and heels and has a penchant for eating bananas in slow motion. We spend several minutes of nothing but her doing stripper hair twirls and squirting milk on her tits while Blondie repeats the word “Sex” and Alyson Hannigan looks on worriedly. She broke up with HIM, though, so Alyson needn’t worry, apparently, because they can all be friends!
But women aren’t allowed to be friends, as evidenced by Mila’s first sentence being a comment on the size of Alyson Hannigan’s tiny boobs, followed by her stripping down naked and making eye contact with both of them while revealing that their engagement ended only three weeks ago. Women, of course, come in only two speeds: Tan, blonde, sudsy whores who are evil and conniving and will steal your man, and vacant-smiling infantilized good girls. I know this is a parody, but this isn’t really doing anything other than play on my absolute least favorite stereotypes, so I admit I started tuning out for a minute while texting love notes to my lady friends because fuck your definition of how women interact.
Alyson Hannigan tries on a wedding dress and gets electrocuted? Honestly I missed a couple minutes here but I think we were doing both My Best Friend’s Wedding and What Women Want simultaneously. Anyway, now Alyson Hannigan discovers Blonde Mila Kunis wants to ruin the engagement. Alyson and Mila snap to Kill Bill outfits and fight over how dare Mila Kunis be sexy I guess. In one scene we have managed to shoehorn in three different films without making an actual joke about any of them, so Bravo, two of the six writers of Scary Movie. Alyson returns to Hitch, who sees a picture of Mila and remarks that he would “tear that shit up.” (God fuck I hate this dialogue so much.) Alyson continues to smile like a dizzy child while she tries to think of a plan.
The next day, Alyson Hannigan wakes up with a comically huge zit and knocks herself through a wall trying to pop it, so she’s naturally an hour late to her own wedding. Blonde Mila Kunis kisses Blonde Hugh Grant just as Alyson arrives, so of course now everything is sad and dramatic because the one true trope of rom-coms is heartbreak caused by miscommunication. So…that’s one point, I guess? Keiro Knightley tries to win her back with a boombox à la Say Anything. Randos throw a series of progressively heavier vegetables at him to get him to shut the fuck up because it’s the middle of the goddamned night on a public street, and to his credit, Keiro holds a very straight face as he is beaned in the eyebrow with a giant prop cabbage. His expression surprises the very first (and sadly, last) giggle out of me, so I feel it’s worth writing it down even though the plot is still stalling.
Alyson Hannigan is depressed back at the restaurant, and Judah Friedlander proposes again, which her father pressures her into accepting. Alyson has a flashback during her vows that is a slow-motion montage of all the worst scenes of this movie set to “Open Arms,” including, naturally, the shitting cat. Dad, seeing how distraught Alyson is, admits to having watched the flashback, wherein “He even liked you when you were butt ugly” (i.e. fat, in case you forgot) and suggests she use a magical talking magazine to go find Keiro Knightley at the top of her apartment building and marry him instead. (I don’t know.) Turns out the magical magazine is six months old, and Keiro has a gross beard now.
Somehow Blonde Mila Kunis is in the stairwell when Alyson Hannigan arrives (maybe she also had a magical talking magazine that was six months old?), and Alyson straight murders her I think, so that’s done. We get some Sleepless in Seattle music, she falls over a railing and into his arms, and we repeat all the most famous lines from the movies we couldn’t figure out how to work in normally while Alyson smiles vacantly.
They have a cute little outdoor ceremony that actually looks like it could’ve been nice, if not marred by Mila Kunis (not dead, I guess?) somehow still being invited and making out with Judah Friedlander in the front row while the Shitting Cat Frenches an old lady (I’m not fucking kidding, this is in this fucking movie.) Keiro Knightley’s dad gives Alyson a gift—and without even opening the box we know it’s going to be creepy and inappropriate AND IT IS AND I’M SO UNCOMFORTABLE, and then we see an Owen Wilson lookalike drop in for two seconds of screen time to ask if he can crash the wedding and continue this Big Bang Theory-esque style of simply referencing things in the hope of eliciting a laugh without having to actually do anything funny.
Probably all of this would have been enough. But for some reason, rather than just let this be a fucking terrible film that we could all forget about, these filmmakers decide they want to give it that extra layer of shit-frosting, just to be sure. For our epilogue, we go to a scene from the alleged honeymoon, which I guess is making a movie on Kong Island—where Carmen Electra (yes) screams for help as she is sexually molested/stripped naked by the giant finger of King Kong while a crowd of film extras cheers savagely. But don’t worry guys, it’s okay, because she decides she likes it in the end. At this point, I ragequit and got up to slam my laptop shut, but Date Movie had got the better of me, because THAT IS HOW THE FUCKING MOVIE ENDS. SERIOUSLY. NOW IT’S THE CREDITS. A CROWD OF MEN CHEERING WHILE A WOMAN GETS ASSAULTED IN FRONT OF THEM. THAT IS THE ENDING OF DATE MOVIE.
So we’re meant to watch these films in retrospect. It’s been ten years since Date Movie came out. I was seventeen years old and extremely awkward-looking when I saw it, so maybe I identified with Alyson Hannigan and her sad observations that people only like girls who are skinny and hot and eat burgers on sudsy cars. I remember not liking it, I remember being uncomfortable at various moments, but I always viewed it through the lens of my discomfort over watching a “kissing movie” with my sheltering mother sitting right next to me.
But I’m ten years older now. I’m ten years wiser. I’m smart enough now to realize I’m not uncomfortable that my mom and I are in the same room watching two people kiss on screen—I’m uncomfortable watching a film where the alleged heroine is emotionally abused, physically molested, and reminded repeatedly that she is only worth what a man wants out of her body. I am uncomfortable watching a film where the fucking finale is a rape joke.
I’m uncomfortable because I feel I have stumbled into a miserable wastescape wherein a tired, graying monkey on an off-key organ grinder slowly holds up a series of pictures of other movies that were funny, and once he is sure I have recognized them, he smears feces on them and drops them to the ground without a word, to hold up another one a moment later with a humorless but self-satisfied expression.
This is not what parodies are. Parodies are well-studied pieces of art where people who know a shitton about the original source material synthesize that knowledge with their innate sense of comedy and create an irreverent but hilarious version of a thing we already know. Parodies have, you know, JOKES. Date Movie has a shitting cat.
Maybe deep down, Date Movie had something to say. Maybe it wants to comment on the infantilization of women in film. Maybe it wants to expose the cruelty of the Slut/Madonna dichotomy. Maybe it is just sick of rom-coms and wanted to show us what it thinks of their predictable, recycled plots—that they, too, are little more than a series of familiar images that no one has bothered to update in many years, so what do we care if some sad half-mechanical monkey takes a three-minute-long puppet shit on them?
Or maybe Date Movie is a fucking terrible film, and you and I both deserve better. Whatever the moral, don’t watch Date Movie.
— Kiki Penoyer