Good-looking Myles Berkowitz has two problems that he wants to turn into
an opportunity. Facing the failure of his personal life (having been
recently divorced) and his professional life as a filmmaker (having
never made a movie), he wants to make a documentary of his quest to find
love in LA. He proposes to call his first picture 20 DATES because that
is precisely how many women he promises to date in the movie.
The movie is actually a mock documentary, but it was realistic enough to
fool some of the critics at our press screening. (There are some
advantages to films without press kits.) The movie written and directed
by and starring Myles Berkowitz, does not have the sharp writing of the
wonderfully inventive WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, another mock documentary.
Nevertheless, 20 DATES is pure, unadulterated fun, and a perfect date
movie. Well, probably not a "first" date movie.
As seems somehow appropriate, 20 DATES uses movie romance as its
benchmark for true love. Even if Myles ultimately concludes that "Love,
real love, is like a really great movie," along the way he uses
delightful clips from classic movies to poke fun at celluloid romance.
He argues that real life isn't like the movies, which usually end with
the man and the woman running toward each other for the big kiss, while
the music comes up. ("Women come and go, but a movie lasts forever,
especially if it goes to video," points out one of Myles acquaintances.)
The plot has Myles getting $60,000 from a foul-mouthed financial backer
who is never seen. Like some exposť on "60 Minutes," we hear the backer
scream obscenities about how he wants the movie done, which Myles
rejects for artistic reasons. The backer wants him to use actresses
rather than real people and wants Myles and his dates to have sex on
camera. While the backer speaks, we see the outside of some sleazy
building as his words are shown below it in subtitles.
Myles likes to add cartoonish graphics for humor. As Myles plods
through his dates, we see graphics like checkmarks and question marks
superimposed on the screen, representing his thinking on how each date
The best use of graphics occurs when he pokes fun at the waste of money
in most motion pictures. Using stick figures in a bar graph, he likens
the money spent on most pictures to the size of the combined United
States and Russian armies. In contrast, he says that his film would
have had only enough cash to hire a single French soldier who would
Although handsome and well dressed, except for his proclivity to mix red
and green, Myles manages to turn most dates off in subtle ways. While
dining out, he complains, for example, about the foods on the menu that
would give him diarrhea. Between the dates are interspersed interviews
with his friends, who give testament as to how annoying Myles can be.
Myles is full of hints on how to meet single women. We learn that the
supermarket is full of them. And if all else fails, borrow a
good-looking child and hang out at the beach..
Will Myles finish the entire 20-date course? And will he find love and
happiness along the way? These are the key questions in this breezy
movie that goes down as easy as the ubiquitous wine that Myles uses with
little success to loosen up his prey.
20 DATES runs 1:32. It is rated R for profanity and mature themes and
would be fine for teenagers.
Copyright © 1999 Steve Rhodes