Once upon a time there was a little movie called Airplane!, a gut-bustingly funny send-up of '70s disaster pictures with a no-name cast (save for Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges) and a trio of novice directors behind the camera. Released in 1980, the film was an enormous hit and spawned a new sub-genre: the feature-length spoof. Over the years, a number of other movies have tried to replicate the non-stop hilarity of Airplane! Some have succeeded (Spaceballs, The Naked Gun), some have come close (Hot Shots!, Scary Movie) and the majority have, in a word, sucked (Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Scary Movie 2 and 3, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist). Date Movie, the latest spoof to hit theatres, falls squarely into the latter camp. There's nary a laugh to be found in this relentlessly idiotic parody of popular romantic comedies, which manages the difficult feat of seeming overlong at just 80 minutes. Even the audience I saw the film with realized they had been gypped. "This is so stupid," one person repeatedly said throughout the movie. Nobody spoke up to disagree with him.
As the ads proudly state, Date Movie is the product of "two of the six writers of Scary Movie," which, when you consider the way that franchise has turned out, isn't something to celebrate. Regardless, co-writers Aaron Seltzer (who directs) and Jason Friedberg (who produces) follow the Scary Movie formula of aiming for as many targets as possible in the hopes of hitting perhaps one or two. It doesn't matter if the audience can barely remember the movie you're spoofing-just keep moving on to the next gag. That's why Date Movie includes poorly executed parodies of such forgettable pictures as The Wedding Planner alongside obvious targets like When Harry Met Sally and Hitch. The nominal plot finds Julia Jones ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"'s Alyson Hannigan, who really deserves better) going from overweight heifer to smokin' hottie in order to land the man of her dreams, a Hugh Grant type named Grant Fonckyerdoder. (Don't bother sounding out the name-the gag isn't worth the effort). But the couple has to overcome a variety of obstacles on their way to happily ever after, including Grant's jealous ex-fiancée, a swimsuit model/nympho, and Julia's stern father (Eddie Griffin) who doesn't like the idea of his daughter marrying outside of her black-Indian-Asian-Jewish heritage.
Plot is always the least essential part of a spoof, but Date Movie carries the genre's penchant for illogical narratives to new heights. The film is positively Dadaesque at times, with characters disappearing and reappearing at random and a number of what-the-heck-was-that moments like the final scene in which Julia and Grant travel to Kong Island to watch Carmen Electra get felt up by a giant gorilla. Were Luis Buñuel still alive, he might proclaim this a work of genius, although even he would blanch at the sight of a cat humping a decaying corpse. The rest of us can agree with the armchair critics of the world: "This is so stupid."