Like The Truman Show, 20 Dates is another movie whose premise is
more intriguing than the actual film. The gimmick is simple: Director Myles
Berkowitz sets out to chronicle his search for love by finding and filming
20 of his own dates.
Right from the start, the movie has the contrived feel of an info-mercial. Even after he resorts to using a hidden camera to make the situations more authentic, Berkowitz of course still knows he's being filmed--and it shows. It wouldn't matter as much except that he keeps stressing the genuineness of his experience, even as he milks it for comic effect.
| The film's central conflict arises when Berkowitz meets the woman of
his dreams and pursues her, while still trying to fulfill the movie's
original intentions. He is so determined to be "real" that he is sure not to
make himself look good; in fact, he goes out of his way to look bad, becoming
such an unsympathetic character that it's hard to care if he DOES get the girl.
All this being said, the movie does offer some good laughs, but only during the first few dates, before the novelty wears off. Berkowitz gets some interesting insights from friends and strangers on the search for dating material in the urban wasteland and cynical reflections on love from his mentor, screen writing instructor Robert McKee.
Most amusing, though, are the glimpses into the film making process, including technical goof-ups and Berkowitz's exchanges with his habitually swearing, ultra-practical producer, Elie, who tries to make him turn the movie into a sex fest to sell more tickets.
|There are occasional flashes of truth, like the hurt on the face of one of his hidden camera dates when she realizes the evening has simply been a movie scene or his own desperation watching couples on the street. In one scene a woman tells him his film isn't so much about love as it is about him. Indeed, the film sheds much less light on how people fall in love than on the games they play looking for it.|