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20 Dates

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: 20 Dates

Starring: Tia Carrere, Myles Berkowitz
Director: Myles Berkowitz
Rated: NR
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: February 1999
Genres: Comedy, Documentary

Review by MrBrown
3 stars out of 4

It's one thing for first-time independent directors to make their feature debuts with movies about struggling filmmakers, and it's quite another thing entirely to engage in the singular act of self-indulgence that Myles Berkowitz pulls off in _20_Dates_. Instead of making a thinly veiled fiction film about himself, he has unabashedly made a film about himself. And, in an added twist, the film he has made traces the making of the film he has made (got that?).

By that description, _20_Dates_ sounds like an exercise in cinematic masturbation--and, to a certain extent, it _is_--but it doesn't feel that way. That's because Berkowitz has an interesting story to tell. Bored with the movies' unrealistic view of love and frustrated with his nonexistent film career _and_ love life, he came up with a high-concept idea: make a movie about his own quest for true love. A camera would follow him on twenty dates (hence the title), and if he somehow fell in love during the course of these dates, not only would he have found love, he would have also captured on film the exact, true moment where people fall for each other--which, he felt, had never been captured in a Hollywood film. But if love never comes, at least he would have his movie.

Because it details real-life events, _20_Dates_ can be considered a documentary, but it isn't entirely one. The film is peppered by Berkowitz's own narration, in which he makes wry comments and observations on the events in retrospect, and, I suspect, he's also taken certain dramatic liberties with some situations (most notably, the downward fortunes of his producer, Elie Samaha). But 100% true or not, the film is quite funny and never less than amusing, due mostly to Berkowitz himself. He is an entertaining, engaging host, with a charmingly self-effacing attitude about him.

So as one watches _20_Dates_, one hopes that he will find success--in his career and in love. Does he? Fox Searchlight's theatrical release of _20_Dates_ answers the former question, but as for the latter? You'll just have to sit through the film's fun, if ultralightweight, 88 minutes to find out.

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