Directed by: Chris Esper
Written by: Chris Esper
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"Undatement Center" could be considered the ultimate date movie. If anyone could get past the paperwork. If you happen to watch this title with a "first date" in tow and they like it, do not date that person again. And if you like it, you may not get a second. The form of the movie penned and directed by Chris Esper is a nasty spin on the internal screening process we all have, when it comes to potential partners. It also throws some very real, but shadowed jabs at the dating agencies of the world. Our hero character Jack, played by Trevor Duke, has a lot in common with myself. Undateable for whatever the reason. After a whopping twelve years, which is crazy even by "my" standards, he enters into the fray and joins forces with the "Undatement Center" dating agency. For the rest of the nine minute film, we are treated to a myriad of potential dates, and a dating application process which is funny but also just downright silly. Or is it?
The real fun kicks off not so much from the film itself, but from the way this title starts your brain spinning. On numerous occasions through the film I kept thinking: Can you imagine? Can you really imagine this could actually happen? As you witness Jack getting "screened" by the agency you may smile at first but it's a shallow one. Although over the top, you may just find a strange reality hiding within the jokes.
"Undatement Center" really has some fun with our modern world right from the first scene. From a teeny tiny, dumbly ridiculous sip of wine, presumably to keep things casual, to the passing of the applicants résumé, we're shown just how crazy our world has become. Sure, Esper is purposefully exaggerating the situation for humor but to some extent, a truth must be present or the idea for this short film simply wouldn't exist. It was great to see a film where finding a date, was jokingly in-line with the paperwork of your first mortgage. The cold corporation's version of a uniquely human trait. The real trick Chris Esper has performed, is making light of something that is really not far from becoming a complete reality. These agency practices already exist in a smaller form. Who can say what the next few years will hold?
"Undatement Center" is a funny few minutes. Handing over a cover letter in the hopes of getting a date? What's not to laugh about? It's also acted out surprisingly well for a low budget independent film. When it's all said and done though, the ending of the movie really did the trick for me. It drove home how strange and unusual we've all become. The climax, if you want to call it that, is a not so gentle reminder that all the screening in the world really amounts to nothing. When you know...you simply know. Or at the very least suspect. For Jack, it was amusing to see him struggle near the ending with what "should" have been a natural thing. I'm sure many of us can relate when I say that getting wrapped up in the paperwork, sometimes, makes it hard to deal with what's right in front of you. I'm not sure it was intentional but Jack's awkwardness with that "final" candidate felt just perfect. That time when you just have to let go of the paperwork, no matter how hard that may feel, and press onward. This one short scene neatly wrapped up the film, and might as well have been a big sign: Stop the BS and go with your gut. On one hand, the dating service in this movie ended up providing the promised date. In order to do so however, meant throwing away the agencies procedures. You have to wonder about one thing as you watch the credits roll. Did the "Undatement Center" get the credit for the date?
A big thank you and a thumbs up to team Esper. A well done short that actually "is" pretty funny.