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"20 DATES"
(1999) (Myles Berkowitz, Elisabeth Wagner) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Minor Mild None Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None Minor Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Minor Minor Mild Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Romantic Comedy/"Mockumentary": An aspiring filmmaker, hoping to jumpstart his career and romantic life, sets out to document twenty dates with as many different women on film.
PLOT:
Myles Berkowitz (MYLES BERKOWITZ) is a recently divorced, struggling filmmaker who can't even gain entry onto the studio lots. Undeterred and with a $60,000 advance from an unseen, but often heard "producer" (ELIE SAMAHA), Myles sets out to make a film documenting twenty dates with as many different women.

With the dual goals of making a name for himself while also finding love, Myles starts on his quest, dating several women with his intrusive camera crew readily in tow. When that causes problems, he uses more of a "candid camera" approach, but that results in several lawsuits from various women who were surprised to find out their dates were filmed.

Eventually he meets Elisabeth (ELISABETH WAGNER), a smart and comely woman who, despite the presence of the camera crew, decides to go on a date with him. A romance blossoms between the two, but complications quickly follow.

Faced with mounting and then threatening pressure from Elie to deliver a sexy romantic picture with some star-named actresses, Myles must decide whether to finish the last of his twenty dates and ensure the success of his career and safety of his being, or risk losing Elisabeth who's growing frustrated with his continued dating of other women.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Probably not, unless word of mouth spreads about this clever and funny "mockumentary."
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For pervasive language and brief sexual images.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • MYLES BERKOWITZ apparently plays himself, a recently divorced and struggling filmmaker who films (sometimes secretly) his dates with various women in hopes of getting his big career break as well as finding love. Along the way he has sex with at least one woman, and cusses some under the pressure of trying to finish his film.
  • ELISABETH WAGNER plays a woman who decides to date Myles and grows frustrated at his continuing to date other woman while they're a couple.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 7.5 out of 10
    The fine line between fact and fiction is getting thinner and increasingly blurrier day by day. With the emergence of Jerry Springer and other such tabloid-type programs, as well as the networks' big-gun news shows -- with some apparently sensationalizing or even fabricating their stories for higher ratings -- there's a big push to make news look more like entertainment.

    Of course, one can always trust documentaries -- the programs that made the likes of National Geographic and Ken Burns famous -- or can they? With recent revelations that those famously suicidal lemmings didn't jump from that cliff of their own free will, and accusations that documentarian Michael Moore ("Roger & Me") altered "the facts" to better suit his needs, even the sanctity of such material is now questioned.

    Then there's the "mockumentary" -- a film, such as "This is Spinal Tap" -- that's shot and designed to look like and fully emulate the real thing, but is actually one hundred percent fictional. While it's assumed most audiences can differentiate the "doc" from the "mock," even that line is becoming hazy since filmmakers are getting so good at the latter.

    All of which leads us to "20 Dates," a charming and funny film that falls somewhere between the two. Described as a combination of "documentarian" Myles Berkowitz's two biggest failures -- his personal and professional lives -- the film details and then follows his plan to date twenty different women in hopes of eking out both a romance and a sellable movie from the experience.

    While Berkowitz -- who not only directs, but also wrote and stars in the production -- swears everything is true, the fact that he's constantly interacting with and/or manipulating his subjects, their reactions, and the final film to his personal satisfaction, clearly gives one the sense that this isn't a tried and true, traditional documentary, and that at least some parts of it seem to have been staged.

    That said, those looking for a serious or revealing documentary about post-teenage dating should look elsewhere for there's not much informative substance to be found here. However, if you're interested in a witty, charming, and occasionally hilarious time at the movies, then this might just be the ticket for you.

    Utilizing a great deal of himself directly addressing the camera or talking via voice-over (and constantly reminding me of ABC TV's John Stossel), Berkowitz weaves a funny tale that somewhat mocks romantic comedies, yet ends up becoming one itself.

    Employing clips from movies such as "Sleepless in Seattle" (a device used for a similar effect in HBO's former series, "Dream On"), writing and drawing on the screen (such as X-ing out his agent when he tells Myles that he needs to learn to compromise), and interviewing various people such as screenplay analyst/instructor Bob McKee (who dissects films and offers romantic advice in the same breath in such a serious manner that it takes on a hilariously surreal feel), Berkowitz never fails to keep things lively, interesting, and funny.

    The film is filled with so many funny moments that it's hard to single out the best. From bungee jumping on one occasion to impress his date, to borrowing a friend's child to use him as a "babe magnet" (with the young boy hilariously failing at his "job"), and crashing and videotaping a wedding while searching for a date, to his funny interaction with his unseen and caustic, but apparently real producer, there's more than enough funny bits to keep everyone entertained throughout the hour and a half runtime.

    Of course, much of the film's success rides on the acceptance of the ever present narrator/director/subject, and as surely as one person's smart aleck humorist is another person's irritant, a little bit of Myles goes a long way. While some may find his "in your face," egotistical style and behavior amusing, others may find it tiring and irksome. Either way, one can't deny that he's got talent and this film should be a huge stepping stone for him.

    Despite the film's obvious low budget look, post-production manipulation, and the fact that parts of it just have to have been staged (although the old saying goes, "fact is stranger than fiction"), none of that should keep audiences from falling for this picture as easily as Myles does for one of his dates who's reportedly now his fiancÚ. Certain to please those who like romantic comedies, we give "20 Dates" a 7.5 out of 10.

    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated film. Profanity is extreme with more than 60 "f" words and an assortment of other words and phrases occurring. Some sexually related discussions occur, and getting his dates into bed is part of Myles' preoccupation with them (he apparently succeeds at least once).

    In some sort of club we also briefly see two women kissing and a mostly topless woman whose nipples are barely covered, while the camera focuses on a buxom woman in a skimpy bikini in another scene. Some drinking also occurs, and some viewers may find Myles "candid camera" techniques to be in poor taste. Beyond that, however, most of the other categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content.

    Nonetheless, and as always, should you still be concerned with the film's appropriateness for you or someone else in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at the content that we've listed.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Myles and his dates have wine in several scenes, and he admits that the women became friendlier after several drinks.
  • One of his dates orders a "sex on the beach" drink.
  • People drink in a nightclub and later in a bar.
  • Myles and his date have champagne.
  • People drink beer and Myles has one on a date.
  • Elisabeth has wine.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a large bandage on Myles' hand that seems to have a bloody spot soaked through it.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some may see Myles attitude toward women (trying to bed some of them) as well as his occasional "candid camera" techniques of secretly filming their dates as having some of both.
  • Some viewers may take offense at Myles' attitude and dislike of the French and anything that's French.
  • Myles crashes a wedding and acts like he knows the groom (while videotaping the ceremony and reception) so that he can meet a woman.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • We briefly see a toy gun in an old home movie clip made by Myles as a boy, and of several swords used in a sword fight from some old movie clip.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Laid" and "Jerking off" (sexual), "Pissed," "Pissed off," "Piss off," "Sucks," "Bitch" (toward women), "Idiot," "Loser," "Screw up," "Balls" (testicles) and "Nuts" (crazy).
  • The film may inspire kids to set up their own hidden "candid camera" moments.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • The classic song "I'm Just a Gigolo" contains that line.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 63 "f" words (1 used sexually), 13 "s" words, 2 slang terms for male genitals ("d*ck"), 6 slang terms for breasts ("t*ts"), 6 hells, 5 asses (2 used with "hole"), and 3 uses each of "Oh God" and "For Christ's sakes," 2 uses of "Swear to God" and 1 use each of "Oh my God" and "God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • One of Myles' dates shows some cleavage.
  • Myles comments that Elie probably wants him to go on a date with a beautiful woman and then "go home and have sex with her," and we hear Elie complain that Myles needs "t*ts and ass" in his film.
  • We see a picture of one of Myles' dates on her wall that's of her nude and in a kneeling pose. Due to the position of her body, however, we don't see anything other than the side of her bare butt and a glimpse of part of the side of her bare breast. Myles does mention that his date "oozes sexuality." Later, he also says that he can't chicken out of bungee jumping in front of her and still expect to spend the night at her place.
  • Myles later comments on thinking he can "close the deal" (have sex) with a woman, and after she says "I'd like a sex on the beach" (a drink), Myles tells a waiter (who's just asked what he'd like) that he'd like to watch.
  • A friend of Myles says that his problem is that he sleeps with women, breaks up with them, and then breaks their hearts.
  • Myles' ex-wife says that she's pregnant by her new fiancÚ, and then comments (from past experience) that you can't talk while having sex with Myles because he likes it very quiet.
  • Elie again complains about there being no sex in Myles film and says that the young man will probably end up "jerking off by yourself."
  • While Myles flirts with Elisabeth in her store, his friend -- commenting on Myles being an actor -- jokingly says that he's been in porno films.
  • Myles briefly sees two women kissing in one club, and then sees another woman (whose bare breasts are covered by tape -- or some sort of material -- across her nipples) dressed in some sort of S&M garb.
  • We see a woman spanking a man (who's clothed).
  • Myles comments on a model only talking about sex. After stating that she likes to smell men, she says, "I'm not going to go down on a guy unless I'm in to him...I'll go down on any guy who's got...respect..." Myles then comments "it's pretty obvious what happened next" and states that Elie probably hoped he'd had sex and film it, but that he didn't (the latter part). We then see Myles (from a distance) closing the shades and he and this woman have sex (although we don't see anything).
  • A question is posed, "Is there a chance this guy's gonna get laid tonight?"
  • Jealous of one of his dates, Elisabeth asks Myles "Are you f*cking her now?"
  • As a woman in a skimpy bikini (that shows a great deal of cleavage) gets out of a pool, the camera focuses in on a close-up of her chest.
  • SMOKING
  • In a clip from a French movie, a man smokes.
  • People smoke in a nightclub.
  • A woman smokes as does a model.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Myles mentions that he recently got divorced and we later see him arguing with his ex-wife.
  • Myles' date mentions that her parents are divorced and he mentions that his father is dead.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The pursuit of love and romance.
  • Whether what occurs in this film was real, staged, or a combination of the two.
  • Myles secretly taping his dates without their knowledge or permission.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see a large bandage on Myles' hand that seems to have a bloody spot soaked through it (evidently the result of something one of his dates did to him).
  • We see a clip from "When Harry Met Sally" where Meg Ryan slaps Billy Crystal.
  • We hear Elie threaten to break Myles' legs if he doesn't finish his film.



  • Reviewed February 24, 1999 / Posted March 12, 1999

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