Date Movies: United 93 vs Hard Candy

by Gordon McDowell

Spring is in the air, a time for a walk in the park, a fleeting romance, and yes, the date movie. But unless you’re me, you might have trouble getting multiple dates. And while I take nature’s challenge to spread my seed far and wide seriously, I’m not above offering my competition some friendly advice. Let’s face it, I’ll never be able to seduce EVERY woman on the planet. There’ll always be that one, rickety old senior who insists on taking it slow… something neither I (nor she) have time for.

This season we’re unusually lucky, with two excellent date movies. “United 93”, a romantic comedy about the hijacking of an airplane. But don’t buy that ticket just yet! Its got some extremely strong competition in “Hard Candy”, a slapstick comedy about pedophilia.

Now the first rule about date movies is YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT DATE MOVIES. Ha, just kidding. You can totally talk about date movies, just a little Fight Club reference for you to chuckle over. No, the first rule about date movies is you’ve got to get yourself a broad suitable for the movie. You can’t take an overweight chick to see “Super size Me”, she’ll get all self conscious about her body and say crap like “Gordon lets just watch the movie”. You can’t take a recovering drug user to see “Requiem For A Dream”, unless the sound of stifled sobbing turns you on. It certainly doesn’t do anything for me.

And the most important (though least intuitive) rule. Never take anyone named Ann Coulter to see a documentary. ANY documentary. She won’t stop yapping about it afterwards, no matter what moves I’m making on her.

By now you’ve probably noticed something about the date movie rules… they require that you know a bit about your date. No just how much she weighs (information which should be readily available on the dating or escort service website). No, what’s she like… in her head! Get to know a bit about her BEFORE you meet her in front of the movie theatre. Those 3 or 4 questions you ask her in advance could give you the edge you need to successfully negotiate the winding, gravely road which is woman.

Thought for thought: Not EVERY woman is going to enjoy EVERY movie. Try pick the right woman for the movie you’re wanting to see.

United 93

United 93

Written and directed by Paul Greengrass (of “The Bourne Supremacy” and “Bloody Sunday” fame), “United 93” is an amazing movie, although slightly predictable. When I saw 4 Arabs boarding the plane, my first thought was “those are the terrorists!” And I won’t give away WHO the terrorists are, except to say, I wasn’t far off the mark.

What’s funny about “United 93” (and I don’t mean funny ha-ha, but funny strange) is that Paul Greengrass seemed to go out of his way to make the movie hard to follow. I had to keep asking my date how many planes were hijacked? And what the names of people were (she didn’t know either)? And what happened to the other planes while I was in the washroom? Its truly a movie that raises many questions.

Perhaps that’s where I made my mistake. I took a looker girl to a thinker movie! Whoops. I could tell half way through the movie she clearly wasn’t enjoying it. Now when you pay $10 to see a movie, and don’t enjoy it, you’ve got a perfect right to complain. But when I give you my half-price-off coupon, and you don’t enjoy the movie, is it too much to ask for you to PRETEND to enjoy it?

I did my best to help, laughing at all the punch lines. Trying to cheer her up, by pointing out how I could have taken out the terrorists with my patented 360 roundhouse-o-doom. And providing a shoulder to cry when she started blubbering about family in New York. Oh, I’m sorry, did I mention I also paid for half of her movie ticket?

Thought for thought: Hang on to your date’s movie ticket, presenting it to the ticket-check for her, etc. If she storms out of the movie dome with the ticket in her pocket, getting a refund will just be that much harder!

I guess that’s why I’m bitter about the whole experience. I’ll spare you the details, except to say we parted ways shortly after the movie ended. She hasn’t returned any of my emails. And she’s a total prude.

But great movie! …except for the downer ending. I’d totally recommend it, so long as you skip out 10 minutes early. I’ll tell you the ending in my head is about a million times better than the one they made (don’t they use test screenings any more?). Just tell your date you’ve seen it before and say they land the plane safely. If she hasn’t already seen it herself, you should be well on your way to a bed full of woman.

Hard Candy

Hard Candy

We’ve all been there. You’re at a fancy restaurant, watching in horror as your date orders item after item: wine, appetizer, entree, dessert. If you’re like me two questions are gonna pop in your head: Am I paying for all this? And: Will this bounce my credit card?

Well what if I told you about a movie guaranteed to lighten the load on the ole’ pocket book? “How is that possible?” you ask. “A movie can’t give me more credit!” “A movie can’t sweet talk my bookie!” “A movie can’t make my child support payments!”

No, but a movie can be so gross your date will forget all about her dinner! Worst you’ll have to pay for is a garden salad. Two words: Forced castration.

Forced castration is an ancient cinematic technique used when dialog just won’t cut it. In terms even my dates can understand, on a save-me-money-at-dinnertime scale of 1 to 10, voluntary castration can be a 10, but only a FORCED CASTRATION will get you to 11.

Forced castration is what a (seemingly) nice, 14 year old girl performs on a pedophile, in David Slade’s “Hard Candy”. And yet, despite the unpleasant topics covered in this film, it successfully manages to bridge the gap between grindhouse-exploitation and romantic-comedy.

Unfortunately, the problem with modern audiences is not everyone “gets” slapstick. What’s the point in making a comedy if only movie critics and other intellectuals are going to understand them? As much as I enjoy laughing at the jokes, I don’t enjoy the simpletons in the theatre telling me to “keep it down” or “shut up”. And judging by my dates, they don’t enjoy it either (nor do they get the jokes, but that’s another story).

David Slade, may I offer a suggestion: You are clearly a talented director. But you’ve still got a lot to learn about leading an audience. QUESTION: When the pedophile is tied to a chair, struggling to get free, and it falls over, how can we make it clear to the audience this is for comedic effect? ANSWER: Sound effects. ANSWER: A laugh track. ANSWER Musical cues. Ever seen “America’s Funniest Home Videos”? Don’t be snobby just because its shot on “video” and not “film”, its got a lot to teach you! Had David managed to incorporate all these elements, he’d achieved A PERFECT STORM of entertainment.

I’m sorry, I tried my best to engage the audience. When the 14 year old girl meets the middle aged photographer at a coffee shop, and is offered a visit to his house, I yelled out “its a trap”. People tried sushing me (even my increasingly annoying date), but you know what? Pretty quick, I was proved right. I tried to point that out to people during the movie, but no one likes to be reminded how stupid they are… and not just in movie theatres… that’s a good life lesson right there.

Thought for thought: Not every moviegoer is as smart as Gord.

But is the movie any good? In a word: Hell yes! I’m sorry not everyone liked it as much as me (I think I was the only one talking while the credits rolled up the screen), but then not everyone could appreciate, or even understand the plot.


For example, when it starts out, the pedophile takes the girl back to his relatively secluded house and lets her have an drink containing vodka. He’s a photographer, and before you know it, they’re about to do a photo shoot. Just when I was starting to think “hey this is a bit creepy”, WHAMMO! The tables are turned, and you know what? Stuff you think was going to happen, totally doesn’t happen, but other stuff (that I’d never anticipated) DOES HAPPEN! It’s like… crazy.

And there’s a castration. It’s pretty intense.


So how’d my date go, you ask? Well on the upside I didn’t have to pay for dinner. My date left halfway though the movie. I told her to wait outside and I’d take her to dinner after I saw how it ended. When I got out 40 minutes later, she’d taken off. Which is weird, but I guess that’s women for ya.

Thought for thought: When you’re on a movie date, why not bring an iPOD MP3 player with you? That way if you’re not enjoying the movie, you can listen to music until it ends, and not ruin my evening by leaving half way through. I’d really appreciate it!

But don’t let my crappy evening keep you from seeing the movie. I thought it was totally awesome. Although I’m not sure I understood why the young girl was so pissed at the pedophile. When I’m in bed with a chick and it turns out she’s a pedophile, I don’t blow things out of proportion. I just try keep calm and say in a polite voice, “I know you’re really into that, but could you stop? I’ve got extremely ticklish feet.”

No castration required.


United 93: Great date movie, unless she:

  • Has a fear of flying.
  • Is a terrorist (you’ll just end up arguing about who is right).
  • Cries a lot.

Hard Candy: Great date movie, unless she:

  • Is a nurse or doctor. They probably see that castration stuff all the time.
  • Is really into feet.
  • Throws up a lot.

That’s it for our spring reviews! I’ll see you next season, and don’t forget to BRING A DATE!

  • Date Movies: United 93 vs Hard Candy
  • by Gordon McDowell
  • Published on June 4th, 2006

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