Up-All-Night Caper FIRST DATE Delivers a Wild Ride

New on VOD and DVD from Magnolia Pictures

First Date is new on VOD and DVD from Magnolia Pictures.

Teen protagonist Mike (Tyson Brown) is a hapless introvert who’s in love with his intimidating neighbor and childhood friend, Kelsey (Shelby Duclos). When she surprises him by agreeing to a date, he’s over the moon — until he realizes he can’t pick her up on his bike.

Mike’s impulse purchase of a used car from a shady salesman (fence) turns into an insane all-nighter adventure when the ’65 Chrysler turns out to be stuffed full of drugs, putting him and his lady love directly in the crosshairs of not only the criminals who own it and want it back, but the police as well.

First Date is, appropriately to the title, a first feature — that of writer-director-cinematographer (&c) team of Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp, who have several shorts and assorted credits under their belt, but are making their feature debut as a creative force.

I really enjoyed this film, especially the very empathetic and enjoyable characters. Mike’s a sweetheart, Kelsey is the girl next door, and even the baddies — a motley group of mostly bumbling amateurs — have some very rich characterization.

Sometimes these wild up-all-night adventures can be too chaotic to the point of being exhausting (even the much-beloved After Hours plays that way to me). I didn’t feel that way with First Date at all — the escalation is so well done and mostly very natural to the story. Well, one of the run-ins admittedly felt quite contrived, but by that point in the film I was already on board and more than willing to go with it.

The film plays breezily which gives it a sort of comedic air, but it’s mostly borne out of that fun style and sense of anarchy, as opposed to straight-up gags. I do wish the comedy was played a little broader and more front and center, as this is the kind of story that would really have benefited from some more laughs along with the crime adventure.

Don’t get me wrong, though — it’s still wildly fun, just more from the breathless narrative. The film climaxes in a gloriously violent and satisfying multi-factioned shootout which may surprise folks who were just expecting a fun adventure, but for my sensibilities it was the cherry on top.

A/V Out.

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