Oddly Functional: Our Review of ‘Mystery Date’ (1991) on Blu-Ray

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Movies by - June 07, 2016
Oddly Functional: Our Review of ‘Mystery Date’ (1991) on Blu-Ray

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There’s something about the formula that demands we stick to it, even when the results are less than ideal.

Released in 1991 and now available on Blu-Ray for the very first time; Mystery Date sticks to the rom-com formula of the time almost a little too well as it borrows a few too many tropes from movies that came before them.

Head over heels in love and too terrified to do anything about it; Tom McHugh (Ethan Hawke)is resigned to being in love with his next door neighbour Geena Matthews (Teri Polo) from a far, especially since he can barely even speak when he comes within 100 yards of her.  When his older brother Craig (Brian McNamara)  rolls into town, he gets some well needed coaching so that his date with Geena will be smooth sailing…and it is until he discovers a dead body in the trunk of Craig’s car and gangster’s and dirty cops on his trail he realizes that his first date with his dream girl, just might be his last.

Admittedly goofy and a little tired, there is still a little bit of awkward charm to Mystery Date as it asks you to not get too hung up on the logic of it all and just go for the ride.

MYSTERY DATE, from left: Teri Polo, Ethan Hawke, 1991, © Orion

Director Jonathan Wacks, working from a script by Parker Bennett and Terry Runte does a passable job getting this movie set up and on its way.  It’s not remotely believable, but it really isn’t supposed to be as it just plays like fable or a comedic romp.  To say that none of the writers or directors here really stood out in their careers with any meaningful projects (and writing the script for the Super Mario Bros movie back in the early 90’s just doesn’t count) but no one embarrasses themselves here as it isn’t a movie that leans on direction or in-depth character development…it just gives a damn if the two leads are cute and have chemistry.

Ethan Hawke in only his fifth feature and long after he was shouting “Oh Captain, My Captain” to Robin Williams actually manages enough school boy charm at the ripe old age of 21 to pull of the love lorn Tom McHugh who just can’t get up the courage to talk to his neighbour who just happens to be the most beautiful woman in the world…stop me if you’ve heard this before.  As the ubiquitous object of Tom’s affection, Teri Polo in only her second feature plays it all well enough opposite Hawke and the two do work well together while Brian McNamara is fun as his miscreant older brother, Fisher Stevens is a hoot as the delivery man pushed over the edge and B.D. Wong is playing his bad guy role almost over the top.  None of it is exceptional in anyway, but for one reason or another it all works.

The picture transfer was solid but believe it or not there were no special features on this BD release.

Ultimately, Mystery Date is the perfect combination of underwhelming elements that oddly clicks together to make an entertaining but ultimately forgettable effort as it tries to be Risky Business which to be fair isn’t the highest bar to set for one self on any given day.

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This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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