Dating is hard. Especially today, when you’re probably meeting your potential mate on Tinder or some other app or online site. When you fill out all that info about yourself, you’re probably putting as much thought into it as if you were filling out a job application. This is exactly what Undatement Center conveys, or tries to.
The film starts so that you think Jack might be on a job interview, but he is in an awkward speed dating center. They don’t exactly talk about their interests, everyone just gets sized up by their dating resumes and professional attire. The strength of this film is that it shows how “competitive” dating can be in a clever way.
“The strength of this film is that it shows how competitive dating can be in a clever way.”
Here is where the film falls short: they gave us an amusing scenario and then kill it with a corny ending. Jack gets to turn the tables around by being the interviewer, becomes a bit of a dick (although he seemed like one to start off with, not exactly a likable character), asks inappropriate questions and says things like “you’re boring.” And then, of course, a sweet, pretty girl comes in and reminds him that this is not how you meet someone. Then they go on a cute bowling date. That’s great, except we know this isn’t how you meet someone. A cute ending is not what this film needed, it needed to stick to the exaggerated spectacle that dating feels like sometimes. On top of a weak ending, the film has awkward transitions, unfitting music (2006 emo kid music didn’t add up here), and mediocre dialogue and acting.
While I was watching this, another recent short film came to mind called The Candidate (Michael Hilf). The Candidate also involves a rigorous interview process, but instead of it being for the position of “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” it is for the position of sperm donor. I don’t want to give too much away, but The Candidate is much smarter. I also laughed at the end.
Somewhere in Undatement Center is the possibility of a good short film, but it doesn’t hit the mark.
Undatement Center (2017) Written and Directed by: Chris Esper. Starring Trevor Duke, JD Achille, Randy Veraguas, Shandy Monte.
4 out of 10