James Keach’s “Blind Dating” might aptly be described as a bad idea poorly executed. Christopher Theo’s script, about a young blind man looking for love while undergoing an experimental treatment that might allow him to see, even if imperfectly, isn’t an especially good one, but it’s certainly not helped by the mediocre treatment accorded it by the filmmakers. The result is a movie that will definitely try your patience.
Chris Pine plays Danny, a sightless kid alternately humiliated and protected by his older brother Larry (Eddie Kay Thomas), a loud-mouthed limo operator who rents his rig out to hookers when the going gets slow. Danny tells his shrink Dr. Evans (Jane Seymour) that he’s never enjoyed the company of a woman; she, meanwhile, undresses in front of him—more in need of therapy than her patient, it seems. So Larry takes it upon himself to provide him with—heh, heh—blind dates. They all turn out badly, which Danny chalks up to their knowing he’s blind, so he tries to pull off one by pretending to be sighted—an effort that turns into a slapstick disaster, of course (though the girl’s too dim to notice until late on).
Meanwhile, Danny enlists with Dr. Perkins (Stephen Tobolowsky) to be a subject in tests of the physician’s seeing-eye device, which involves a sensor implanted in the brain to allow him limited vision using a pair of special glasses. His visits to the doctor’s office bring him into contact with a receptionist named Leeza (Anjali Jay), with whom he hits it off after a comically rough start. But she’s engaged, via an arranged marriage, to an Indian man, and breaks it off with Danny to keep her pledge to her family. The two plot threads converge when Danny has the operation and can see after a fashion until the device fails and has to be removed; but he endangers his health by going off alone before it’s taken out to see Leeza before he’s blind again.
About the only positive thing one can say about “Blind Date” is that Pine is a very attractive guy, and quite reasonably approximates a good-natured blind fellow so intent on being self-sufficient that he even tries to get around without using a cane whenever possible. But the script never makes Danny a rounded character, and Pine can’t do it by himself. Jay’s okay, but the sequences dealing with her family and her fiance descend into clumsy caricature. Tobolowsky plays things straight as the doctor, and is simply dull as a result, and Seymour is absolutely terrible as the psychologist who’s worse off than anyone around her. (Her disrobing scene is acutely embarrassing.) But even she’s tolerable compared to Eddie Kaye Thompson, who’s supposed to make Larry a lovable jerk but accomplishes only the jerk part.
“Blind Dating” is thoroughly mediocre from a technical standpoint, looking every inch the low-budget independent movie, with Julio Mescat’s cinematography generally grainy and washed-out and the locations and sets appearing bland and characterless. The background music is nothing to write home about, either.
The notion of a seriocomic take on a young blind man isn’t inherently a bad one, perhaps, but in the form Theo has imposed on it, it certainly seems so. And Keach has made matters worse with his inept realization of it. Chris Pine is certainly a likable fellow, but unfortunately “Blind Dating” doesn’t deserve to be seen.