Mystery Date’s Plot Should Remain a Mystery

 In Comedy, Crime, Everything, Skip
Brian McNamara, Ethan Hawke, Teri Polo, and BD Wong in Mystery Date

Mystery Date

?Directed by Jonathan Wacks?
?Written by Parker Bennett, Terry Runte?

The review:

The movie that provided the first starring roles for Ethan Hawke* and Teri Polo is not one for the history books,** though its crime is being incredibly middle of the road, not terrible. It’s one of those movies that reminds me how the 80s kept going for a bit into the 90s,*** and it fits into that action/comedy slot but sprinkles in a bit of romance. I found the plotting interesting and was wondering at some point how everything would manage to come together in the end.

The verdict: Skip

(Unless Teri Polo or Ethan Hawke completist.)

Cost: HBOMax monthly charge ($12.99)
Where watched: at home

Consider watching instead:

Further sentences:

*Hawke has some signature things he falls back on at this point in his career, like looking to the side as if in heavy thought, shaking his head, and regretfully saying something. If I follow through on my hazy plan to catch up with all of Hawke’s performances, it will be interesting to see when those tics disappear.
**It didn’t, for instance, come up when Ethan Hawke was discussing his iconic roles in this (highly recommended) video.
***Teri Polo’s hair! The hair of Ethan Hawke’s mother and friends! The boxy, flowy clothing on the men!

Hasn’t aged well:

Stalking and theft! Great ways to get the girl!
The main character uses his brother’s telescope to spy on the girl he’s too scared to talk to. He later uses information he gathers to ingratiate himself with her.
The main character steals a bag of trash from the house where the girl he likes is staying. Later, he and his brother go through the trash to learn more about her. This information is used (with a bit of fun gaslighting) to convince her to go on a date.


  • What would have been the thing that finally had Geena Matthews saying, “Nope, this isn’t the guy for me”?
  • What did you think of the many Asian characters in this film?

Favorite IMDB trivia item:

The crazy metal band on stage at the night club is GWAR.

“Is that GWAR?” I said to myself during that very scene. This movie was interesting from a music perspective. All sorts of things one wouldn’t think would be thrown together in a movie. Songs by Sonic Youth, INXS, Seal, and Wilson Pickett. Plus GWAR. But like I said before, the 80s kept going into the 90s for a bit. There was a guitar/sax thing that was lodged deep somewhere in my psyche. Thanks to the internet, I now know that it was “Lily Was Here.” I don’t know if I ever knew the title.

Other reviews of Mystery Date:

  • Rita Kemply, Washington Post
  • (Great quote from this review: Hawke has a pleasant lackadaisicality about him, a way of sidling up to a punch line…)
  • Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Orange background with a white frame. Well, fine. Well then I'll just go over there and say, "Hi, I'm Tom and you don't know me, but I've been spying on you for a couple of months now and I am finding you very attractive in a very real, very hormonal way." And then she'll slap me silly.—Mystery Date. Read the three sentence movie review.
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