20 Dates

1999, Movie, R, 88 mins


Here's the pitch. Myles Berkowitz, self-proclaimed failure in both filmmaking and love, decides to make a pseudo-documentary about the Los Angeles dating scene. His agent hooks him up with an investor who'll pony up $60,000 to film 20 dates. Saddled by typical guy-in-his-30s neuroses and issues -- including a total inability to dress or behave like a normal human being -- Berkowitz unleashes himself on the unsuspecting women of L.A. Some of their reactions to Berkowitz's revelation that he's filming their abortive dates -- assault, lawsuits and flat-out rejection among them -- are amusing, in a pie-in-the-face kind of way. But Berkowitz practically begs you to like him, despite all evidence that he's truly unlikable: Even his putative friends describe him as generally hateful, particularly where women are concerned. And Berkowitz's compulsive cheapness and propensity to discuss his digestive problems over dinner seem contrived to repulse both his unfortunate dates and the audience. The film's most consistently entertaining element is Berkowitz's backer, a shady character named Elie Samaha who never appears on camera. Samaha's expletive-laden harangues, in which he orders Berkowitz to beef up the movie's T&A factor, are priceless. And Berkowitz is, apparently, the only man in Hollywood who doesn't know that Samaha is Tia Carrere's husband, which lends unintended irony to his repeated refusal to cast Carrere as one of his dates. Berkowitz is, of course, absolutely aware of his own misogyny and odious behavior, but clearly believes that he shines next to the likes of Samaha. And lo and behold, midway through the project Berkowitz actually meets and falls in love with a clerk named Elizabeth. Technically and aesthetically, the guy's got the talent of a regular joe with a camcorder. But don't fear for his future -- he's marrying the shop girl and he's got a studio deal. leave a comment --Sandra Contreras

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20 Dates
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