When Walter Davis is set up with gorgeous Nadia Gates, the perfect blind date dissolves into disaster.
Although Bruce Willis was a popular actor in 1987, coming off the success of TV's 'Moonlighting' series with Cybill Shepherd, his big-screen debut in 'Blind Date' had him take second billing to the slightly more famous Kim Basinger, who was herself coming off the success of '9½ Weeks' and her nominated performance in 'The Natural.' And yet, the real star of this 1987 rom-com favorite is the lesser known Willis, who was only ever seen as the suave, cocksure, fast-talking, smart-alecky private eye David Addison. As the less confident, fairly tense and somewhat uptight Walter Davis, the future A-list star goes against type, showing hints of the sort of comedic talent he then unleashed the following year in 'Die Hard.'
Of course, that trademark satisfied smirk Willis is now famous for is in full effect, so we still see indications of his fearless, can-do self-assuredness throughout which promises a victorious triumph by story's end. And in this plot, written by Dale Launer ('Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,' 'My Cousin Vinny'), that encouraging little grin of his comes in quite handy for a poor schmuck who's about to have his life turned upside down. Willis does a great job in making Walter into a lovable everyday guy, someone with a few personality quirks you still don't mind watching for the next 90 minutes. The once-aspiring guitarist works himself to the bone and into the wee hours, so he hasn't the time for romance or meeting women.
Almost as if the filmmakers know they have one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood — a former Bond girl for crying out loud! — Kim Basinger's entrance is an amusing embellishment. After building up the character for several minutes — a funny phone conversation between Walter and his sleazy, used-car salesman brother (Phil Hartman) — Walter meets Basinger's Nadia in her hotel room while holing a match. The romantic scene not only plays to the actresses' stunning beauty but also makes clear, probably intentionally, where the film will end. In 'Blind Date,' the former magazine model reveals her comedic side as a woman who can't hold her liquor, embarrassing Walter during a business dinner, wreaking havoc on a marriage, and eventually having him fired. We're never given much an explanation for her uncontrollable bonkers behavior except that she's basically allergic or highly sensitive to alcohol.
But whatever the reason, Nadia is a handful of disaster and life-altering chaos, especially with Walter being the victim of her bedlam, from his Nissan 300zx being stripped for part to his night in jail for possession of an illegal firearm. Hilarious as that may be, however, there's actually very little spark between Willis and Basinger, which sadly works against the film's intended goal. They're simply not a believable couple, almost too buddy-buddy. But what they lack in chemistry is made up by the story's sheer absurdity and hilarious characters. Adding more fuel to the catastrophe is John Larroquette as Nadia's obsessed, maniac stalker ex-boyfriend following the couple all night long. The real highlight though is the hilarious back and forth between Laroquette and William Daniels.
Admittedly, 'Blind Date' is far from one of the better romantic comedies available or arguably all that memorable, but through its formulaic conventions, the movie still manages good-natured and satisfying entertainment. No stranger to the genre, 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' director Blake Edwards, the celebrated genius behind the 'Pink Panther' franchise, provides the story with amusing energy and momentum, yet does nothing refreshing or innovative with it in order to make this particular film special. And the potential is there. This is essentially Edwards at his most formal and routine, creating a few moments of humdrum. Nevertheless, it's not a complete loss and still works as a serviceable date movie.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Image Entertainment brings 'Blind Date' to Blu-ray on a Region A locked, BD25 disc inside a blue, eco-lite keepcase. At startup, viewers are taken directly a menu screen with options along the bottom, full-motion clips and music playing in the background.
The 80s rom-com favorite smashes onto Blu-ray with a generally satisfying but fairly average 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. While it boasts a significant upgrade to previous home video releases, this high-def edition of the movie still shows its age with a healthy dose of poorly-resolved, noticeably soft scenes. However, the best moments are during bright daylight sequences where we see plenty of sharp, distinct details in buildings, foliage and various other objects. Presented in a 2.40:1 framed window, contrast is good with crisp, clean whites, and colors are boldly rendered, especially Nadia's red dress and Walter's blue suit. Brightness levels are also strong, but a few nighttime sequences tend to show shadows that are blacker than black, ruining delineation a tad. All in all, it's not a terrible presentation, but it's not great either.
Given the DTS-HD MA treatment, the audio is in the same boat as the video with plenty to enjoy but not quite as good as it probably could be. The stereo soundtrack, for most part, shows great balance and comes with appreciable imaging. The music fills the entire soundstage, and several off-screen effects are well placed. However, the mid-range often feels restrained and sometimes pushed too hard, creating a few bright moments that carry a tad noise and nearly clip. Thankfully, those only happen during the couple action sequences, of which there are not many. Low bass is generally weak and hollow, making certain scenes all the more noticeably flat and humdrum. Dialogue reproduction, on the other hand, is clean and intelligible in the center although air and hissing is quite audible throughout. Ultimately, the lossless mix is good, but could be better.
This is a bare-bones release.
Starring Kim Basinger and then rising star Bruce Willis, 'Blind Date' is a mostly entertaining and amusing romantic comedy with a few moments of genuine hilarity. Blake Edwards directs this 1987 rom-com favorite with great momentum, but fails to make it particularly special or impressively memorable. The Blu-ray arrives with a rather average audio and video presentation although a few spots are worth noting. Ultimately, the bare-bones package is for nostalgic fans.