After premiering at Sundance in early 2021, Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp’s feature debut is finally arriving on UK shores and it’s a rather puzzling film in terms of its influences and what it’s trying to be. It channels a little bit of Tarantino, a hint of through-the-night teen comedies like Booksmart and Superbad with the Coen Brothers also seeming to be a big influence too and ultimately it never quite finds its footing.
After finally plucking up the courage to ask out his neighbour Kelsey (played by Shelby Duclos), shy high-schooler Mike (Tyson Brown) realises he’s missing a crucial element needed for a successful date. He can hardly pick her up at seven if he doesn’t have a car to pick her up in. He’s low on cash and after panicking for a while he ends up getting conned into buying a beat up ’65 Chrysler by a suspicious con man. Hoping to have a first date to remember, things don’t quite go to plan as Mike and Kelsey find themselves at the mercy of two cops, a criminal gang and a vengeful cat lady after discovering the car is connected to some shady stuff. Unlike most first dates, this one’s full of desire, bullets and burning rubber.
The two find themselves on a surreal adventure through the town encountering all sorts of eccentric characters and at times that feels like the whole point of it. There often feels like there’s little tying it all together and each scene is just to get us along to the next wild character all leading us to the riotous finale where all hell breaks loose. There’s action and moments of really good comedy, as well as some good romance too, but there only ever feels like potential and promise throughout with nothing overly captivating jumping out at you by the time the film ends.
First Date is entertaining in that everything that happens is weird, wild and totally unexpected, and directing duo Crosby and Knapp have promise to go on to make some great things in the future, however it never takes its potential anywhere beyond an entertaining enough film. There’s fun to be had for sure in this crime comedy adventure flick, however it doesn’t really warrant wanting to ever revisit it again. It’s great in that there are constantly new reveals adding to the outlandishness of it all but this ridiculousness is pretty much all of what the film has going for it.
None of the cast particularly stand out, especially since most of the characters just seems like caricatures ripped out of any of the previous films that have come before and influenced First Date. There’s a good premise here and the film plays with it and with the ridiculousness of the situations and scenarios it sets up, only it never fully develops this into something completely worthwhile. Instead, First Date ends up as a slightly messy film with sporadic moments of comedy.
First Date is ambitious and sweeps us along on its surreal journey moving at breakneck pace complete with bursts of action and occasionally some very funny moments that leaves you in stitches laughing but ultimately it doesn’t leave you wanting a second date.
First Date is on digital 17 January 2022