Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Are We Officially Dating?

Meant to be a comedy, Are We Officially Dating? follows three New York guys who've made a pact to stay single after one of them suffers a break up.  Cue crazy testosterone-fueled adventures!  Except, not.  It turns out their idea of staying single is achieved not by spending time with their mates, but by spreading themselves through a "roster" of girls with no expectations, providing sex-on-tap without complications like, you know, talking.

The film has been released in Australia and New Zealand with the more optimistic working title from the screenplay, rather than the prophetic US That Awkward Moment: that moment being almost the whole film, but also referring to the point at which one partner starts to think sleeping together equals relationship, and must therefore be dumped.

Of course, the heart-warming message of the film is that each of the guys finds someone he enjoys spending time with, and starts to grow up - but because he's loyal to his friends and the safety net of their pact, is "forced" into all sorts of denials and problems which screw up the budding relationship.  Through this terrible turmoil, (spoiler alert!) the guys realise female companionship isn't so bad, and luckily, because they've had the great taste to pick such cool chicks, all they have to do is suffer a little physical discomfort while making apologetic gestures - and no matter what he's put her through, the girl will take him back!

It tries hard to make you think it's funny, and never raises more than a snigger, but the saddest thing about Are We Officially Dating? is the filmmakers obviously believe they've created strong, feisty women for their three bros.  It shouldn't have to be pointed out to them that a few quippy lines and some kooky behaviour added to a sex toy doesn't actually make it a woman.  None of the girls here have any agency or even friends of their own: they're islands in a world of men, their choices limited to resisting a guy for a while, waiting for him to call, or leaving him for another man.

Are We Officially Dating? is a misfire - too soppy for guys, but too deeply misogynistic for anyone but a (hopefully very young) guy to find funny.  Officially, don't see it.

If you're looking for a silly, formulaic date movie good for girls and guys, don't watch the above.  Friends with Benefits starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake has its weak points, but is a movie about fear of commitment that's actually both funny and romantic.

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