Monday Movie: Blind Date, by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi
Every Monday, we’ll highlight a piece of writing from our vaults. This article originally ran as a Home Video Hovel review.
There’s one moment in Blind Date that made me laugh and it was a subtle audio joke in the background during the opening scene. As Walter Davis (played by Bruce Willis in his first starring role in a film) stumbles around his apartment getting ready for work, the radio plays an ad for the James Brown car alarm. The alarm frightens car crooks by playing a looping audio clip of James Brown yelling “Ow!” over and over again. A silly piece of humor, but it caught me off guard. If the rest of the film provided any laughs at all, I would have had a good time. Blind Date has a fine premise for a madcap romantic comedy and a game cast, but plays things far too timid to make much of a mark.
Blake Edwards of The Pink Panther fame (the originals, not the Steve Martin remakes) directs this 1987 romantic comedy about a blind date that goes awry. Desperate for a date after a hard day at work, Walter has his brother Ted (Saturday Night Live’s Phil Hartman) set up with Nadia (9½ Weeks’ Kim Basinger), his wife’s cousin. After learning that Nadia gets wild after a few drinks, Walter shares a measly glass of champagne with her. She quickly spirals out of control, getting him fired at a work dinner party. With her insane ex-boyfriend David (Night Court’s John Larroquette) in tow, Walter and Nadia have to get through their blind date in one piece as things go from bad to worse.
The biggest flaw in Blind Date is that everything comes off as far too tame. The worst that happens when Nadia drinks is that she squirts champagne in Walter’s boss’ face and runs out to a nightclub. Kim Basinger is never willing to loosen up the character enough where she becomes a real firecracker. Both John Larroquette and Bruce Willis deliver higher energy performances that could have worked if the events were at a quicker pace and each more outrageous than the last. Instead, they have to play against the limp noodle that is Basinger, who sucks any and all energy out of the room. One scene that sort of works is a bit of physical comedy where Willis has to sneak around a house trying not to be seen by a guard dog and Larroquette. It has suspense and a sense of purpose the rest of the film lacks. The wedding that closes the film comes across as more of a plot contrivance than anything else. A disappointment considering the two leads, Blind Date is a romantic comedy without the romance or the comedy.