There's some deception attached to the marketing of "Blind Dating" that's going to, pardon the pun, blindside any viewer walking into this picture thinking it's a Farrelly Brother-style comic jaunt. For the record, "Dating" is barely a comedy. In fact, I'm not sure how to classify this bizarre romantic drama other than woefully miscalculated.
Blind since birth, Danny (Chris Pine) had always been protected by his family when it came to matters of the heart. Thirsting for a more adventurous life, Danny decides to embark on a series of dates to boost his confidence. While his romantic partners always seem to fall short, the young man takes a shine to Leeza (Anjali Jay), an Indian medical assistant with a crisis of family and obligation she wants to break free from. As the two fall in love, the cultural differences between them create a divide, pushing Danny to experimental eye surgery to help him regain his sight.
See, I told you it was strange.
Director James Keach has his heart in the right place with this sincere stab at romantic intentions, but his plot is far too obese for one neatly folded motion picture. "Blind Dating" doesn't play to Keach's television filmmaking style. It's not tidy enough on the page to blindly follow wherever the story roams to, and the end result is a film that's only inches away from a total mess.
"Dating" starts off familiar enough, with Keach laying in some light attempts at gross-out humor and sight-impaired comedy (stuff like Danny running into trees). None if it is mean-spirited and, lead by a charismatic performance by Pine, the picture is harmless enough, but it never rises above its modest ambitions. Segueing into the routine assortment of slapsticky blind dates for Danny, the film becomes inoffensive, rote and uninspired, but nice enough.
As Danny and Leeza start their tango of attraction, "Dating" gets softer and more affectionate. It's here where Keach is at his most assured, exploring Danny's happiness and Leeza's anxiety. If "Dating" ended up here, it would've been much easier to enjoy and digest, but Keach and screenwriter Christopher Theo aren't satisfied to exit on that note. They want to punish the audience.
It's difficult to tell if the surgery subplot was born out of desperation to find something else for the movie to do or simple greed that the audience loves Danny so much, the filmmakers will put him through more misery to further grease his sympathy.
However you look at it, the borderline sci-fi bootlegger's turn the picture makes in its final reel is just so mind-bogglingly inane, not only does it force you to hate the film, but it makes one wonder if Keach wasn't drinking while assembling the picture in the editing room. Seeing Danny walk around in sunglasses with microchips glued on, trying to process his new vision with disastrous results, is the sledgehammer to the kneecaps of the whole production.
If there was any goodwill set aside for "Blind Dating," Keach's transparent effort to milk the film for tears erases it all. I wouldn't even describe what "Dating" becomes as ambitious. It's just sloppy, and corrupts the comfortable level of mediocrity it made peace with early on.
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