Boy likes girl, boy asks girl out on a date, boy wants a car for the date. That is the basic structure for directors Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp’s First Date. Mike (Tyson Brown) is a shy and sensitive suburban teenager who is attracted to his opposite—Kelsey (Shelby Duclos).
Kelsey is a confident straightshooter who practices boxing on her punching bag in her garage. Her looks attract not only Mike, but a clownish jock (Brandon Kraus). Given the demand for Kelsey, Mike’s friend helps him summon the courage to call Kelsey and ask her out. She says yes. That was the easy part for Mike.
Mike takes note of Kelsey’s love for what are considered disposable objects, in this case an old 8-track player her mother used to own. He finds an advertisement for a used car—exactly what he needs for his first date. He visits the seller—the sleazy Dennis (Scott Noble)—who shows him a clunker of a car. Mike, even in all his innocence, senses he is being sweettalked by Dennis into buying the clunker; however, when Mike notices an 8-track player inside the car with the same exact 8-track cassette that Kelsey adores, he feels there is some destiny at work there and purchases it.
As soon as Mike starts driving his purchase, things get complicated. He gets wrapped up in a big mess involving valuables and drugs inside the car, the sleazy criminals who want those valuables and cars, and crooked cops.
Crosby and Knapp attempt to make First Date a hybrid film. Think teen caper meets Pulp Fiction. As teen caper, First Date succeeds just barely thanks to Tyson Brown. He is believable and adorable at the same time. He exudes Mike’s awkward sensitivity and makes us believe that he is just a kid who is a passive passenger of circumstance in what is the worst night of his life. As a film inspired by Pulp Fiction, First Date fails.
Tarantino films have given us memorable bumbling criminals and sleazeballs capable of delivering memorable dialogue. First Date’s characters do not come close to having the same snap or wit as Tarantino’s characters. The criminals and sleazeballs in First Date are just annoying. A recurring reference to Mike’s “ball sack” is but one example of what are uninspired lines of dialogue. First Date is a date you may want to end early. There are plenty of other fish in the cinematic sea.
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