"It was a bad idea. But like all bad ideas, it seemed right at the time."
I know this movie has been made several times already, and, quite sadly, I can't name any of them. Why not? Because the basic premise of these films stinks, and no screenplay is going to make this idea fun and memorable. If you happen to be walking down the DVD aisle in the store and you notice this movie's bright yellow cover with a big picture of Will Ferrell (Saturday Night Live, Elf, Old School, A Night at the Roxbury) on it, don't stop. Don't be fooled into thinking that this movie will be any good because of that rather talented comedian.
Facts of the Case
Les (Grant Shaud, Murphy Brown), Nick (Anthony Palmero, Rollerball (2002)), and Al (Will Ferrell) have been friends for exactly 33 years. They were all born on the same day and in the same hospital, which they take as a sign of uniqueness over which they have male bonded. Unfortunately, these guys are losers and have a really hard time getting dates with women. They've had some luck in the past, as Al was almost married, but now they know nothing but bad karma.
The leader of this trio is Les, and he's come up with an idea that he thinks will motivate the guys to good karma. Remembering his youth when his dad motivated the young Les to do better in school by offering him a year's worth of allowance if he got straight-A's, Les wants to turn dating into a competition. What he proposes is for each of them to fork over $2,000 and the first one to find a girlfriend and live with her for three months will win the $6,000.
It's not about the money; it's about the encouragement to bust your butt to succeed in life. Reluctantly, Nick and Al play along, beginning a series of unfortunate incidents in all of their lives. Les ends up connected to a very mysterious and exotic woman, while Al stumbles into one atrocious first date after another. Nick, lying to himself about what he's doing, lies to his friends and connects with an ex to engage in a "business transaction" to win the money.
How will it all turn out, and who will win the $6,000?
Who cares! This movie, which if I think hard enough was also the vague basis of a Mark Harmon film (Worth Winning), is trite, predictable, long (at 90 minutes), rather boring, and barely funny. It's one of those ghastly dramedies that misses the mark by a country mile. Yes, it was a bad idea, one that never should have been considered good at any time. I'm having a hard time saying much more about this film because the film is so shallow in and of itself. What is the point of this movie? Was it meant to be funny? Was it supposed to try to teach men a lesson about women? Was it something else? I really don't know. If it was meant to be funny, then it was nearly a failure. I clearly remember a brief chuckle emanating from my lips exactly two times, both courtesy of a rejoinder by Al. If it was meant to teach me a lesson, then I learned never to make a stupid $2,000 bet with my friends. Of course I already knew that, and I never would have done something so lame-brained in the first place. If there was something else, besides sucking up my precious time, it was lost on me. So, in turn, I am going to save all of you the trouble of learning a bad lesson: don't waste your time with this movie.
Men Seeking Women is such a predictable mess. If you cannot guess how this movie is going to unfold, then you must be asleep. The writing is painfully obvious with tired and rote direction—and, amazingly, both are provided courtesy of Jim Milio, whose résumé is lacking in any other feature film credentials. If you need any further proof about how bad this movie is, know that aside from playing in the Santa Barbara Film Festival in 1997, this film has never been released. It's been hidden in a film vault somewhere.
Now, I'll admit I am being a bit harsh in my words here, which don't seem to completely gel with my score of 70. I guess that's attributable to the two laughs, a few attractive women, and the ending that actually left me with a smile. Still, you're better off skipping this one.
Our friends at Artisan have released this film in bare bones glory, with transfers that are surprisingly good for such tired material. The video, which they have the audacity to label as "Presented in the original 1:33.1 format," is obviously in full frame. And, unless it's a TV show (I'm not aware of any recent film shot in that ratio) that statement is a lie. Granted, I can't confirm this, but I'm assuming there is a widescreen ratio out there somewhere. Regardless, the video is filled with bright, lush, and accurate colors; however, the entire presentation is a touch soft with light dust throughout—with one scene, a long-shot of the friends walking, absolutely exploding with grain. The audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0, and it treats the dialogue-intensive film well with clean, hiss-free sound and little use of the surrounds or bass.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
As I said, I chuckled twice and smiled at the end. That's about it. There's little redemption to be found in this piece of work.
I think my closing was pretty well stated earlier in this review: I cannot recommend this film. It's a dramedy that is lame and flat. It's not funny; it's not compelling; nor is it even good enough to use as a tranquilizer. Don't be lured in by Ferrell's face on the cover, expecting one of his bravura performances (actually, I don't think he's quite ever done that, but Elf was awfully "cute"), because it isn't here. Men Seeking Women is not something you need to rent and certainly not something you need to buy. This film's release to DVD is unwarranted, and it should be scuttled and returned to the hidden film vault beneath the Nevada salt mines.
The court hereby finds Men Seeking Women guilty of stalking. The film is sentenced to seek counseling for its lack of creativity and forethought.
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