Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So I get my weekly issue of Jet Magazine and after checking the Beauty of the Week, Tamara from Palm Beach Florida who enjoys reading, swimming and modeling, we spend the next two and half minutes reading the magazine from cover to cover. One of the little tidbits in the mag was the Jet DVD pick of the week, which featured this movie right here ‘Speed Dating’, plus the little blurb stated that it won the Audience Award at the Pan African Film Festival. That’s outstanding! Who am I to deny myself watching a movie that Jet Magazine has recommended to me, and one that has won awards on top of that? Nobody, that’s who. Well… after watching ‘Speed Dating’ we can safely say that Jet Magazine will no longer dictate my movie watching choices and we also need to ask who in the heck was sitting the audience that made ‘Speed Dating’ an audience favorite. What else were you guys showing that day at the Pan African Film Festival, ‘The Birth of a Nation’?

Too Cool (Wesley Jonathan), Dog (Chico Benymon) and Beaver (Leonard Robinson) are a trio of high living SoCal roommates. Yes, these gentlemen seem to be well in their thirties and they also look like they have plenty of money considering Too Cool’s aunt developed ‘Halo’ and all so the fact they all still live together and continue to answer to stupid names is a bit peculiar, but we will roll with it.

Too Cool is a tragic figure who uses women only as a means to his sexual end, such as the completely crazy Frenchita (Mary Alexandra Stiefvater) who after being rudely escorted from the premises promises to snatch the love away from Too Cool when he least expects the love to be snatched away. That’s what she said. The little exchange between Too Cool and Frenchita played parallel to Dog and Beaver having an altercation which was one of the few funny scenes in the film, so if you watch this movie pay attention to that scene and appreciate it.

But the movie is called Speed Dating and this comes into play because Dog and Beaver own a little nightclub and they have concocted a rigged Speed Dating game to allow them to get all of the ass. Or more accurately it looks like it’s rigged so Too Cool gets all of the ass. I think this is where the bulk of the humor is supposed to originate from but it really doesn’t happen.

Ah, then she walks in. She would be Danielle (Mekita Faiye), a long legged super-fit vision of femininity who can’t dance to save her life, and Too Cool is smitten. The fact that she can’t dance is kind of relevant because Too Cool’s mom (Holly Robinson-Peete) who gave him up for adoption when he was like six couldn’t dance either. So they go back to crib, do that thing, but Too Cool can’t stop thinking about this tramp he just met a few hours ago who so willingly gave up those panties. Oh those crazy kids and their crazy morals. Eventually they reconnect, run a couple 400 meter sprints and love is formed. Not only that, but Dog has met the absolutely lovely devout Christian Elizabeth (Vanessa Simmons) and has kind of found God for the moment while Beaver seems to be coming to grips with his questionable sexuality. It is all good. Plus the Alzheimer stricken aunt (Roxanne Reese) who invented ‘Halo’ is coming home. Yay.

But can love last? Remember that crazy chick who promised to snatch love away? Hopefully these crazy kids and their crazy morals can get it all back together.

I guess the first salvo we can lob at Joseph A. Elmore Jr.’s Romantic Comedy ‘Speed Dating’ is that there’s not a lot of comedy in it. It tries. Oh Lord does it try… Wesley Jonathan in a diaper, a sprinting Alzheimer’s patient, lots and lots of gay jokes, Chris Elliot as the Blue Man – don’t ask… but it was not hitting on much of anything comedy wise, with the possible exception of the Dancing Mexicans. It’s complicated. Alas, by the time Tony T. Roberts did his pimp-preacher bit and with that failing to be even remotely funny, I had to come to the sad realization that comedy will not be coming to us on this day. Still, we did have some romance to sift through with the hope that the romance would save us. Actually the romance part is a little better since Wesley Jonathan and Mekita Faiye are both very appealing actors with this physical appeal being the only thing that these two characters could possibly see in each other since next to nothing went into developing this relationship that the film hinges on, but nonetheless, watching them make googly eyes at each other and observing them walk on the beach or running sprints was more entertaining than the failed comedy.

It’s too bad really because ‘Speed Dating’ had a solid cast to work with, it looked great and it sounded good but it didn’t succeed at anything it set out do, assuming what it set out to do was to entertain me. No matter what Jet Magazine and the audience at the 2010 Pan African film festival had to say.

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