The other day, I wrote here about my good friend Myles Berkowitz, who wrote-directed-and-starred in the movie, 20 Dates, and the lovely, funny first-anniversary letter he wrote related the film as a gift requested by the newlywed husband for his wife's favorite movie.
Among many other things I wrote about the unique Myles (who has an MBA from Wharton and worked for a while as an actor and then writer, before then developing his start-up company for a diet product, LifeSize), I mentioned that for inexplicable reasons, although Fox Searchlight had released 20 Dates on VHS after it hit the theaters in 1998, they never put out a DVD. That's such a shame because the fake-documentary (which many people think is actually a real documentary) is wonderfully done and very funny.
However -- good news, limited though it may be, it turns out that 20 Dates is available online to watch for free on Vimeo, if you know where to look for it. And the added good news is that I know precisely where you can look for it -- because I'm able to embed it right hereI
Now, to be clear, posting an entire movie on this site is not something I would normally do. But there are two reasons I feel fine doing so. The first is that the movie isn't available anywhere else. (At least for the moment. Hopefully, one day that will change...) The other reason is because...well, Myles himself told me about the Vimeo video and said he had no problem at all with me posting it here.
So -- huzzah! -- just because you all are so nice and deserve a treat, you can watch 20 Dates below!
A few things to know about the movie.
It tells the story of a character named Myles Berkowitz deciding to make a documentary about going on 20 dates in order to find True Love before the final credits. As I said, it is a fake documentary. As much as it looks like a real documentary -- and it really does -- it isn't. It's fake. Really, truly fake. But one of the fun things that helps confuse people is that he did film a couple of the 20 dates as an actual documentary, completely unscripted, with young women he was set up with, and even somehow was able to get release forms from them (hey, that's Myles...), and those sequences are edited seamlessly in with all the others. But the blending is done so well that it's near-impossible to tell which is which. And to help the sense of reality is that a few other sequences are actual unscripted documentary -- like the phone calls he has with the film's producer, Elie Samaha...generally yelling at Myles, who decided to use them in the movie. Also, for the "confessional" interviews with his friends, he told them to be brutally honest when talking to the camera with their opinions about him. Those are all very real. (And very blunt. And very funny. And very accurate.) But other than these few sequences, everything else is structured, with an outline, where he and the actors -- yes, all the other "dates" are all actors (including some recognizable ones playing themselves, such as Tia Carrere (then-wife of producer Samaha and Julie McCullough), -- went over what was to take place, and they then ad-libbed everything. Sort of like Curb Your Enthusiasm, but years before. And in a way that looks like it's actually all real.
Another thing. As it likely clear by this point, I think the movie is very funny and clever. However, it is also not for everyone. The main character "Myles Berkowitz" is a funny, smart, self-effacing, open, honest, obnoxious, annoying jerk of a lovely guy. That's just not everyone's taste. But keep in mind -- this isn't a documentary. Almost all of it is NOT real. And even the parts that are real are being done to further the fictional story. My theory has long been that many people over the years who might not like the movie feel that way because they think it is real, and can't get past the "That Myles guy who made the movie is such a jerk" sensibility. But...again, This Is All Fake. When you watch it as fiction, suddenly the craft opens up to you. But then, even believing it's a real documentary, I still think it's so entertaining, as the character grows in his quest to find The One True Love -- even if one has to occasionally cringe at how raw and on a vulnerable edge that quest at times appears.
But -- it's not real. It's fiction!
If you don't have time to watch the whole thing now (it runs 85 minutes), just bookmark the link to check back later. And if you don't have an inclination to watch the whole movie, at least just watch the first five minutes. It sets up the film and is extremely funny, as it shows Myles trying to put together the project and get onto movie studio lots around town by talking his way past security guards. And know this: making the "studio lot" montage all the funnier is -- these also are completely real, no script, the guards weren't told beforehand, they're just doing their job when clod comes driving up, filming it all. Only later did he tell them, since he needed the guards to sign releases, and so they could get paid. And they all did sign -- except one, who was reluctant -- adamant about not wanting to be used in the movie. It took Myles going to the head of the studio to intervene and personally call the security guard, asking him to sign -- and the guard finally agreed. And happily, when all the guards (including the reluctant one) saw the final film, they thought it was a hoot.
Which it is.
How the few real dates felt about it, that's another matter. But then, hey, they did sign their releases! So...in the end, they were fine with it, too.
Curtain up. Welcome to 20 Dates.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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