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Blind Dating

Half-earnest treatment of how a young blind man falls in love while trying to decide whether or not to use a seeing-eye device, tepid and inconsequential "Blind Dating" features ham-fisted slapstick alongside its multiracial romance.

With:
Danny - Chris Pine Larry - Eddie Kaye Thomas Leeza - Anjali Jay Dr. Evans - Jane Seymour Dr. Perkins - Stephen Tobolowsky

Half-earnest treatment of how a young blind man falls in love while trying to decide whether or not to use a seeing-eye device, tepid and inconsequential “Blind Dating” features ham-fisted slapstick alongside its multiracial romance. A mish-mash of tones, with goofiness shifting to dead-serious and back again, compounds the pic’s difficulties, though a tacked-on happy ending may hoodwink enough auds to score modest coin come its gradual national rollout April 6.

In voiceover, Danny (Chris Pine) introduces his own life as being full of wild pratfalls and battles with brother Larry (Eddie Kaye Thomas). Growing up blind and thinking he can get around without a cane, Danny is a virgin as he attends college. Larry has grown up to be a cocky owner of a limo service for hookers and their customers — with every indication that his nice Italian family is clueless to his sleazy profession.

To his therapist Dr. Evans (Jane Seymour), Danny confesses that he feels like a 10-year-old trapped in an adult body; it’s clear to anyone paying attention that Danny needs to get laid. Larry sets his brother up with one disastrous blind date after another, but the comedy isforcedand unfunny.

Screenwriter Christopher Theo conjures up a scenario in which Danny is offered to be a guinea pig for an experimental seeing-eye device developed by Dr. Perkins (Stephen Tobolowsky). The question of whether every blind person wants to see is swiftly bypassed.

Just as dicey is the relationship between Danny and Leeza (Anjali Jay), Dr. Perkins’ receptionist whose kind nature makes Danny swoon. Pic’s repeated gag is that handsome Danny has no idea how attractive he is to women, and it’s compounded by Danny not realizing how pretty Indian-American Leeza is. That she’s also engaged to Arvind (Sendhil Ramamurthy), from a respectable and traditional Indian family, is something she fails to tell Danny until he’s built up feelings for her.

The film never determines what kind of comedy it wants to be, nor what tone it should rely on. When Thomas is onscreen, things get predictably rowdy; when Leeza’s family is onscreen, the film trucks in lame stereotypes of Indian kin and culture; when Danny’s personal issues are onscreen, things get suddenly serious in a most unconvincing way.

Pine deploys an all-American equanimity to attempt to balance the pic’s contradictory moves, but it’s too much for one actor to reconcile on his own. Jay is by far the most engaging thesp, with her Leeza struggling with the forces of family and tradition and with her heart, and making it feel as real as the script allows. Seymour’s brief scenes border on the bizarre, while the best natural comedian in the film, Tobolowsky, is asked to play it straight.

James Keach’s helming appears far more comfortable with the serious moments than with the crumbling comic set pieces, while the production package is pro. Story location indicates in many shots that the action is set in Provo, Utah, while many other details suggest the East Coast.

Blind Dating

Production: A Samuel Goldwyn Films release of a MilCoz Films production in association with Catfish Prods. Produced by Costa Theo, Joy Mellins, David Shanks, James Keach. Executive producers, Jane Seymour, Steven Bickel. A Samuel Goldwyn Films release of a MilCoz Films production in association with Catfish Prods. Produced by Costa Theo, Joy Mellins, David Shanks, James Keach. Executive producers, Jane Seymour, Steven Bickel. Directed by James Keach. Screenplay, Christopher Theo. Directed by James Keach. Screenplay, Christopher Theo.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor, widescreen), Julio Macat; editor, Larry Bock; music, Heitor Pereira; music supervisor, Liz Gallacher; production designer, Eric Weiler; art director, Mark J. Mullins; set decorator, Mullins; costume designer, Cheri Ingle; sound (Dolby Digital), Jonathan "Earl" Stein; sound designer, John Hanson; supervising sound editor, Barney Cabral; re-recording mixer, Stephen Fitzmaurice; visual effects supervisor, Mike Most; line producer, Nicolas Hippisley-Coxe; associate producers, Roger Carey, Costa John Theo; assistant director, Hippisley-Coxe; casting, Lisa Beach, Sarah Katzman, Kate Plantin (U.K.), Cate Praggastis. Reviewed at Santa Barbara Film Festival, Feb. 3, 2007. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 99 MIN.

With: Danny - Chris Pine Larry - Eddie Kaye Thomas Leeza - Anjali Jay Dr. Evans - Jane Seymour Dr. Perkins - Stephen TobolowskyWith: Pooch Hall, Frank Gerrish, Dee Macaluso, Amelia Praggastis, Sendhil Ramamurthy.

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