Most people at some point in their lives have experienced an intense celebrity crush. For me, it was Jonathan Brandis. Yes, the pretty boy from Ladybugs who looked better in a dress than most women in Manhattan. I was around 9-years-old at the time, and my walls were plastered with pictures of him from various teenybopper magazines. I was a member of his fan club, and I got an autographed picture back when he was on the show “Seaquest”. Of course, I knew he never actually read my letters or signed my photo personally, but it was enough to make my little elementary school girl heart go aflutter.
Lucky for me, I grew up and evolved to bigger better things, like fixating on Matthew McConaughey’s abs. Evolution only goes so far. My Date With Drew is a documentary by a 27-year-old hopeless romantic named Brian Herzlinger who won $1,100 on a game show by saying the name of his long-time media crush, “Drew Barrymore.” A struggling filmmaker in Hollywood, Brian resented being stuck in a series of dead-end jobs and craved a major boost in his life. He had an epiphany one day with friends Brett Winn and Jon Gunn, and they decided to create a documentary together with his earnings from the TV show. Since their bank accounts were dwindling, they borrowed the most expensive camera from Circuit City, exploiting their “30 day free trial” policy. The theme of their movie would be to discover what happens when a regular guy tries to schedule a date with a high profile, unattainable celebrity. Would he be able to land a date with Drew, or would he find himself in handcuffs being hauled off from her front lawn?
Their plan to get Brian to Drew is by following the workings of the Kevin Bacon Game- find someone who knows someone who knows the actress, many times over. Brian is determined to try and make this encounter, convinced that if he could get though the hordes of publicists and agents blockading her, she would be sweet enough to agree to a meeting. He is not looking for marriage or a relationship or to father her firstborn child, just a chance to sit and have a meal and chat with America’s sweetheart. To try and make contact, he even visits her regular Hollywood facialist, allowing her to squeeze and prod his blackheads with pain-inducing delight.
My Date With Drew never completely takes itself seriously, which allows it to be a delightful, entertaining film, and not the voyeuristic exercises of a celebrity-obsessed stalker. Brian is a loveable doof, which makes the movie relatable on a number of levels. Many people get bored by the commonality of their lives and yearn for something extraordinary, but few actually put their plans into action. Brian is insecure and filled with self-doubt, poking fun at his excessive body hair and welcoming the mockery of those he encounters. When meeting with director Bill D’Elia for advice, he immediately slams his journey, saying, “At 27, I wanted world peace, not Drew Barrymore. The dumbing of America is complete.” And in a way he is right, but this is all in good fun, and a way to try and inspire people into taking drastic measures towards unreachable goals.
The movie is shot in a very Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) kind of way, with narrations and fun clips thrown in for good measure. Similarly, Brian experiences some of the same directorial setbacks as his predecessor. While he is an average-looking guy with an average salary, it helps that he has been working in Hollywood for years and has established many contacts. He’s not quite as regular as a guy working at an Exxon station in Des Moines, Iowa. Also, by no means could the entire film be shot on the budget he claims, which is $1100. The music alone, including “Walking On Sunshine” and “All By Myself” would create a substantial dent into the budget.
If you can overlook some slight manipulation, you can enjoy My Date With Drew for what it is: a fluff piece. Brian is likely to appeal to mass moviegoers, because he is a clueless dork like the rest of us. If he were an arrogant jock trying to nail a celebrity, nobody would care about witnessing his plight. One of my favorite scenes is when he calls his ex-girlfriend for advice, and she flies into a jealous fit, enraged that he would ask her help in pursuing another woman. It was a very real moment, expressing genuine insecurities, and those types of moments are scattered throughout the movie. If his mission to get a date with the famous girl of his dreams proves to be a failure, at the very least he will have smooth skin free of whiteheads for a week. Things could always be worse.
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