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20 Dates

Starring Tia Carrere
Screenplay and Directed by Myles Berkowitz

IN SHORT: Think Michael Moore, without the confrontations. Rated [R], 88 minutes

Billed as a Romantic-Comedy, but moreso a very enjoyable documentary, 20 Dates is exactly what its name says it is, a single man determined to find love amidst the next 20 women he meets. Twenty. No more, no less. No great motivation, like a suicide pact drives this boy (and I wish I could remember which film already used that wretched idea, but I can't). The film's producer has threatened to break his legs if there isn't a lot of sex, and an appearance by Tia Carrera in the flick, which may be standard incentive for Los Angeles.

For those of you new to the dating game, play close attention. This is the torture you will face if you don't do like your great grandparents did, and marry the first person you sleep with. Failing that, take Cranky's advice and marry the first person who wants to marry you. That way you won't wind up wretched and miserable like me. But I digress...

Creator Myles Berkowitz claims that if he "could get a date, anybody can". The man has obviously never experienced the Hellish Existence that is Cranky, and he still has his hair. He also has a wicked sense of self-deprecating humor, which is what makes this verbatim tale fun to watch. As much as Berkowitz may hate the French, which becomes a running gag in the flick, his movie is very much like a lot of French films I've suffered through. They all seem to have an idea for a character and then let the story develop itself, regardless of how long it takes. Berkowitz' idea was simple: A film crew clandestinely tapes each date, while he searched for Ms. Right, and a movie would be made from the results.

Adding running commentary, besides Berkowitz' almost non-stop vebal regalia are the flick's producer,"Elie," who possesses a vocabulary written by George Carlin, and scriptwriting guru Robert McKee. Elie, who was also taped secretly, describes what it takes to make a successful movie, and it's obvious that what he thought he was putting up money for is not quite what Berkowitz had in mind. His bits are among the funniest of the flick. From the intellectual side, McKee offers his analysis of why romance movies are impossible to make. Berkowitz' friends (if you can call them that) and his ex-wife offer their opinions on why he is a total loser. You don't need opinion, you get to see all his "moves". Sheesh.

And Leo DiCaprio appears briefly in the middle of the flick, which should suck the little ladies in.

Remember, Berkowitz set out to make this film with no predetermined ending in mind, other than stopping after date number twenty. He also didn't know that surreptitious filming in California is quite against the law (his lawyers are sorting that all out even as I write). With no story, except what life throws at him, this thing should have been a disaster from the word go. But halfway through, he meets the Woman Of His Dreams, and then has to figure out how to keep that relationship going when he is committed to at least another ten or so dates. From this point out, 20 Dates becomes more than an esoteric exercise and becomes a verbatim story of a real life love affair. It is solely because of this bit of conflict that the movie works so well.

If it wasn't so much fun I'd probably condemn 20 Dates as a supremely egocentric indulgence. But it's a hoot. All those of you with five or more years of horrible dating experiences will find this thing to be a helluva lot of fun. I did.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to 20 Dates, he would have paid...


Date level flick, of course. The [R] is for language, so don't be like the producer and get your hopes up for lots of hot steamy peeping tom type sex shots. You do get to see Tia Carrere and a Playboy Playmate of the Year. Be thankful.

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.