In love with Drew Barrymore
Thirty days… $1,100…six degrees of separation – what would you do?
With little more than the clothes on his back and an easy grin, Brian Herzlinger, accompanied by his longtime friends Brett Winn and Jon Gunn, pursues his childhood dream of a date with Drew Barrymore in his new film.
Aided along the way by the support of producer Kerry David, Herzlinger documents his quest in the movie, “My Date With Drew,” a feel good flick that just picked up the Audience Award for Best Feature at the recent HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen.
Success is in the air for the filmmaker, having commandeered April guest spots on the Today Show and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Articles on the film have appeared in Entertainment Weekly and In Touch magazines, as well as screenings at the Waterfront Film Festival, the 9th annual Gen Art Film Festival and, closer to home, the inaugural Vail Film Festival this week.
Sitting in the audience during the Aspen screening, I was immediately taken with the charismatic underdog Herzlinger, who approaches life with childlike enthusiasm and sensitive perception, taking great pains to avoid being mistaken for a stalker.
The movie opens as Herzlinger has just won $1,100 on a pilot game show (Taboo), where the winning answer was Drew Barrymore. Encouraged by friends Winn and Gunn, Herzlinger sets out for the impossible dream, handicapped only by small things – no video camera, no direct link to Barrymore, no real idea of how difficult this might be. Circuit City’s 30-day, “no questions asked” return policy yields the use of a video camera for 30 days. Limited by this 30-day deadline, Winn, Gunn and Herzlinger utilize their industry connections in the “six degrees of separation” style, securing interviews with Eric Roberts, Corey Feldman and John August – screenwriter for “Charlie’s Angels.” The grassroots promotion of the film has relied heavily on word of mouth, directing people to the Web site http://www.MyDateWithDrew.com, where a 3-minute preview of the film can be downloaded. More than 30,000 hits have been logged since its launch last year.
Herzlinger becomes an unlikely screen star, as his self-deprecating humor and unmistakable warmth win the audience over. He strategically places himself in awkward circumstances throughout the quest, enduring his first facial on-screen with Barrymore’s facialist and even casting a Barrymore look-alike to test his dating skills in a dry run of his ultimate goal. A highlight of the film is the team attempt of Winn, Gunn and their wives to sneak Herzlinger into the “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” premiere after-party through high-tech deception.
While a documentary in nature, “My Date With Drew” is an unexpectedly sophisticated feature with skillful camera work and crisp editing. Audiences are invested in Herzlinger’s quest immediately, much to their surprise. From eight to 80, people of all ages will relate to the concept on the most basic level. What becomes the central theme of this film is not the date itself, but rather the relationships between the friends. Winn and Gunn’s ardent encouragement of their friend becomes the most inspiring element. Producer Kerry David lends her support, fueled by her understanding of the power of a crush, having had a longtime fascination with Tom Cruise. The overwhelming inspiration of the film is the opportunity to dream big and pursue goals with unbridled enthusiasm, accompanied by your best friends. What better way is there to approach life?