Nadine in Dateland (2005) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG for some sensuality and language
Running Time: 126 min.
Cast: Janeane Garofalo, Brad Rowe, Tamala Jones, Swoosie Kurtz, Julie Claire, Veronique Vicari
Director: Amie Steir
Screenplay: Amie Steir
Janeane Garofalo (The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Mystery Men) stars as Nadine, a 30-plus dating service operator that has found her niche offering dating advice to others, yet she can't seem to get it together on her own. Times are hard in the dating world though, and Nadine is faced with the possibility of having to close shop. However, her well-to-do mother (Kurtz, Duplex) is willing to make an investment in the struggling company, but only if Nadine can prove her formula for dating success works, and to do that, she must convince her old college flame, Adam (Rowe, According to Spencer), to fall for her. Having to rekindle a long-dormant attraction is hard enough to do without also having to compete for his affections with the sexy, tall and rich fashion expert named Magda (Claire).
Nadine in Date Land is blessed with a likeable cast of actors for such a modest endeavor, made for the Oxygen channel on a shoestring budget. Where it fails is in the execution, with a claustrophobic way of filming the actors, and a frenetic style that is a bit too noisy both visually and aurally for what should have been just a small-scale, unpretentious romantic comedy.
Garofalo has proven to be quite popular in these sorts of movies, but even her sassy attitude and witty ad-libs can't breathe life into a plot that doesn't exactly sparkle with great moments or a hint of originality. Writer-director Amie Steir is revisiting territory she had already explored in her made-for-cable ten minute short film, "Date Squad", about a hired group of dating experts that assist otherwise hopeless daters on how they are doing throughout the date, using hidden cameras, mics and other means of communication.
Fans of Garofalo will no doubt eat this up, although it doesnt stack up to her more popular theatrical releases, like The Matchmaker and The Truth About Cats and Dogs, both movies that seem to cover almost all of the territory Nadine in Date Land explores. For all others, this is a completely generic romantic comedy made worse with headache inducing music, nausea inducing camera work, and sleep inducing plot developments.
©2005 Vince Leo