"20 DATES"
*1/2 stars 88 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, March 26, 1999
Directed by Miles Berkowitz

Starring Miles Berkowitz

This movie received a dishonorable mention in the Worst of 1999 list.


Obnoxious wannabe director's filming of his dating life - some of it staged - will feel even more grating on video because it will be like you invited this abrasive bonehead into your home. Will play like bad reality-TV.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 8/10/99

Insufferable unemployed director films his quest for romance as a resume-builder

By Rob Blackwelder

Myles Berkowitz is an out-of-work director and egomaniac with a clever idea that is destroyed by his self-indulgence in the semi-documentary "20 Dates."

Unable to find a directing gig in Hollywood and on the slide romantically, Berkowitz decided to film his hopefully enticing attempts to find love in L.A. and then use the finished product as a calling card to make a name for himself.

The problem is, this guy is such an insufferable, whiny troll that it's really difficult to understand why only one of his 20 dates walks out on him in the course of the film.

"Wouldn't it be interesting to film everything a guy goes through for a date?" he asks rhetorically in his grating, nasal and incessant voice-over.

Well, NO, not really. Especially when the picture's staged episodes are so painfully obvious and his studio gate-crashing attempts at Michael Moore-dom so tedious.

Berkowitz addresses the camera like a cheap lawyer on a late-night TV commercial. He whines about women like a funny bone-deficient Woody Allen or Jerry Seinfeld, even taking on-screen digs at his ex-wife. He argues with one date about why she broke up with a previous boyfriend. He gets sued by another who didn't know she was being filmed until he pointed to the bushes like a lecherous Allen Funt. With a hidden camera, he cruises chicks in the fat-free aisle of a grocery store.

The movie's only really amusing bits come when Berkowitz isn't on dates. His financial backer is a cantankerous, camera-shy Greek who swears like a sailor and insistently (and almost violently) advocates a T&A angle for the film. What I really enjoyed were the episodes in which his friends tell him how annoying he is. "You're an acquired taste," an ex-girlfriend says diplomatically.

Amazingly, Berkowitz actually finds love in the course of making this movie -- and with a girl that is an absolute doll! The last reel concerns, in part, his internal uncertainty about going on other dates to finish the movie.

I'll grant Berkowitz that "20 Dates" was a resourceful, original, necessity- is- the- mother- of- invention idea for a director desperately looking for work. With a less obnoxious subject this might have worked as, say, an hour-long special on HBO. But with Myles Berkowitz it's simply agonizing.


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