Hippo Manchester
August 25, 2005

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My Date with Drew (PG)
by Amy Diaz

One lonely, desperate schlub tries to change his fortunes with $1,100, a borrowed camera and a celebrity crush in My Date with Drew, the world’s most entertaining resume.

Brian Herzlinger is living a life somewhere at the bottom of the entertainment industry. His friends — hairdressers, editors, makeup stylists — are part of working Hollywood. He wants to write (or direct or something vaguely important) but so far his brushes with fame have come from being a hanger-on (like the time he almost met Drew Barrymore at a Charlie’s Angels premiere party) or being the kind of cheap day-labor (a contestant on a game show pilot) that helps the waiters and coffeehouse employees of LA pay for their acting lessons.

Not to be harsh but Brian Herzlinger is, essentially, a loser.

Conscious of this, Herzlinger grabbed on tight to the first winning experience he had — a $1,100 prize from the aforementioned game show. As he pointed out, this money could either float him through another month or be the seed money to fame. He picked fame and along with a digital camera “purchased” with a friend’s credit card (with the intention of returning it before the 30-day return period was up)  he decided to put his cash toward scoring a date with his long-time crush, one Miss Drew Barrymore.

Of course, if you are one of the many lit majors with an over-developed sense of self and a propensity toward mopeyness to make the trek from New Jersey to Los Angeles, getting a date (or an interview or an acknowledgment) from someone like Drew is no easy feat. Herzlinger plays the Hollywood game of six degrees of separation, tracking down Barrymore’s first cousin, her facial lady and forever trying to get her business partner to buy into the publicity value of Herzlinger’s date movie. He plays up the childhood crush aspect of his dating desire (he was even a member of her fan club back in the day). He works B-list celebrities like Andy Dick (who ultimately decides that appearing in the project just isn’t right for him) and Corey Feldman (who, bless him, does appear). Eventually, he even puts up a website (you can still see it: mydatewithdrew.com) and gets the media in on his quest.

Sold as something between a Morgan Spurlock/Michael Moore-ish documentary and an Amazing Race with less travel, My Date with Drew is really about one thing: finding Brian Herzlinger a job. And not the E! job he gets in the movie but an honest-to-god Hollywood presence. Drew Barrymore herself is just the McGuffin to help demonstrate Herzlinger’s drive. And, hell, why not? If you’ve lived your career on the bottom rung, a few more years of legitimate hard work will probably only get you a few more lateral moves. Big gestures in an industry all about the big gesture can be a way to distinguish yourself from the thousands of other people exactly like you striving for exactly the same thing (and, yes, my darling, self-proclaimed “nice Jewish boy,” there are definitely a thousand other guys like you in Los Angeles).

It’s the striver quality that can make Herzlinger’s quest both sort of annoying and genuinely entertaining. We’re pulling for him because we know, deep down, he’s not really doing this to date Drew but to avoid moving back to his home town or to not have to make a temp job permanent. Herzlinger’s big, ill-defined dreams do not, at times seem realistic or terribly likely but they are as worthy as any of our own silly ambitions. Getting a book published, starting your own restaurant, getting a law degree, heck even losing 30 pounds — replace your fantasy goal with his and you begin to develop admiration for Herzlinger’s decision to throw caution and humility and dignity to the wind and just go for it. And not in some measured way but with a go-for-broke, all hands-on-deck (he gets all of his friends involved) zeal.

As the name implies, My Date With Drew is indeed a romance but the romantic connection is with Romance itself, the Romance (yes, capital R) that allows people to put common sense aside and do what may seem both impossible and ridiculous.