Dating The Enemy
Director/Screenplay-Megan Simpson Huberman, Producer- Sue Milliken, Photography-Steve Arnold, Music-David Hirschfelder, Visual Effects-Animal Logic (Supervisor-Andy Brown), Production Design-Tim Ferrier, Production Company-Australian Film Finance Corporation/Pandora Cinema/Total Films
Claudia Karvan (Tash Trevellyn), Guy Pierce (Brett Flinders), Matt Day (Rob), Pippa Grandison (Colette), Lisa Hensley (Laetitia), John Howard (Davies), Scott Lowe (Harrison)
Dating The Enemy was released in three different countries. First it was released in Australia on September 19, 1996. A few months later on January 23, 1997 it was released in New Zealand, and finally on August 17, 1999 it premiered in Italy on television. Although there were no box office figures available, I was able to gather a general sense that this movie was very popular and successful when it was released.
There were only a few interviews of cast and crewmembers in the research that I found. One was with Megan Simpson Huberman, the director/screenplay for Dating The Enemy. In an interview she briefly discussed aspects of the movie that the cast and crew focused on. One of those aspects was Claudia and Guy's portrayal of Tash and Brett when their bodies were switched.
The information that I found on this film was from Internet resources. There were a couple of web sites that contained reviews and those are: www.starwars.com/bio/claudiakarvan.html, www.us.imdb.com, www.apple.com/applemasters/dhirschfelder, www.crazy4guy.com/dating, www.urbancinefile.com.au . Also, one can read a sample of the screenplay at www.afc.gov.au. Included in those web sites, are interviews with Megan Simpson Huberman, Guy Pierce, Claudia Karvan and numerous critics' reviews of the film. I was surprised to see that Dating The Enemy was on the E! web page, www.eonline.com. E! is a very popular television gossip program in the United States. Although the movie has never been released in the United States, it was still accessible on one of the most popular celebrity gossip web sites. In addition to the interviews and reviews, there were fan clubs that people could join and give their opinions of the film. One such web site was www.members.dairyland.com. Also, there were of pictures of Guy while making the film on the web site, www.aussieguy.com/guyimagesdating.
I had a difficult time finding information about the film in textbook reviews. I found it interesting that even though the Internet was still being created in 1996, the Internet was where I found all of my information. Thus meaning that this film must have been popular enough to have a web site during the Internets early years. I would have thought that most of my information would come from resource books and periodicals, but there were none to be found on this film.
Dating the Enemy was a cute romantic comedy that was fun to watch when in the mood for a lighthearted movie. The films plot was simple and predictable. It was not one that inspired a person to change their life or one that made a person think of life differently. The movie began by Tash, Claudia Karvan, and Brett, Guy Pierce, becoming romantically involved and having problems while dating. Tash was a shy science journalist and Brett was a popular MTV dj. The two find that they had difficulty relating to one another and therefore ended their relationship. After breaking up Tash wished that Brett could understand what was it like to be her and her wish magically came true. Tash and Brett changed bodies and had to learn how to deal with living the other person's life. The personal experiences they both endured, such as Brett experiencing a menstruation added lighthearted humor that most audiences enjoy. Each character had to deal with their feelings for the other person and both characters realized that they still had feelings for one another. However, they hid those feelings from one another because of their jealousy for one another. When the jealously reached its peak both characters were doing things to spite the other, these were some of the more humorous parts of the movie. The movie used humor when Tash and Brett were getting revenge on one another, but it was obvious they still had feelings for each other. Once the two realized that they had feelings for the other, they decided to work together and help the other with their job. While they worked together, it inevitably led to the two becoming romantically involved again and finally returning to their own bodies. White the movie and the drama that it exuded was very predictable, it was an enjoyable film. The comedy in the film was not offensive and the two actors portrayed their characters very well.
The idea of having the two main characters switch bodies gave the movie a more creative twist than most romantic comedies. It was humorous to watch the two characters struggle with the differences of being a person of the opposite sex. Watching Tash and Brett deal with the different mannerisms and gestures was enough to make and audience member chuckle. The way in which Claudia and Brett mastered the hand gestures and mannerisms of the opposite sex made them very believable. Also, they did not over exaggerate the differences in the mannerisms, which kept them from being offensive and made them more believable.
When the movie was released in 1996 and most of its critical uptake centered on the movie's unoriginality. Most of the critics agreed that this film was an enjoyable one, but also agreed that Claudia Karvan over exaggerated her masculine gestures. One critic stated, "Guy Pierce is as cute as a pie and knows it and Claudia Karvan, though she needs to restrain her body language a little (not so many thumbs up) makes a beguiling partner," said Evan Williams ( www.crazy4guy.com/dating ). Most critics though that Claudia found her feet towards the middle of the film. I disagree with those critics because Claudia's hand gestures were part of what Brett did when he was in his body. Therefore it was only reasonable that Brett would make those same gestures while in Tash's body. The movie received two and a half stars, which was adequate because the movie lacked originality and was very predictable. Another critical review in 1996 claimed that the movie centered too much on a woman's point of view. This critic felt that the movie held a feminist agenda and that there was an underlying meaning. I disagree with this critic also, because the movie was about how the two characters did not get along with one another. The movie was supposed to be centered on Tash's point of view, and how Brett did not understand her. Therefore, I felt that the movie was about Brett trying to understand Tash and figure out where she was coming from. In addition, Tash was about to realize where Brett was coming from, thus making her realize that she, too, needed to change. Therefore the movie did not focus only on Brett and how he needed to change, it focused on Tash too. This critical review did point out that the best segments of the film were when Brett and Tash had to adapt to the difference in mannerisms. I agree with this because without the humor the movie would not have been a success. The last line of this review summed up the film and its credibility by stating, "for all its agenda, the film is not an unlikable one." Meaning that the film is not going to change a person's life, but it will entertain it for ninety-six minutes.
The critical uptake of the film subsequently was that it was difficult to find information in books on this film. Thus, meaning that most people have forgotten about it. When asking Australian students if they remember this film, most students vaguely remember or have seen the movie. The majority said that they remember it from a long time ago. The movie, seemingly, was a hit in 1996, but after its release and hype fizzled, so did the movie.
In relation to other Australian films that I have viewed in this past few months Dating The Enemy differs from them greatly. The movie tends to portray a more typical Hollywood love theme. Hollywood releases light-hearted romance movies continuously, but on the other hand Australian films I have seen tend to cater more towards originality and edgy topics that other national cinema's have not yet explored. This movie did cater to a large audience, just in a different way than other Australian movies do. I am sure Hollywood fans enjoyed this movie greatly. The Australian films I have viewed, for the most part, leave viewers in awe of the characters actions or leave viewers trying to understand what happened in the movie. Movies that I have viewed which exemplify making viewer "think" include Holy Smoke, The Boys, and Walk About. I am sure there are tons of other Australian movies that are romantic and lighthearted, but from my point of view, those types seem to be of minority. Since this movie was so similar to Hollywood films, one would imagine that this film would be of interest internationally. However, it was only released in Australia, New Zealand and Italy. The reason could have been that the plot line had already been successful in Hollywood. For example Big was a movie made during the 1980's and starred Tom Hanks. In the movie Big, his character wished to be "big" enough to ride a roller coaster and his wish came true. The movie portrayed the problems that he faced when he became "big" and having to make a life for his own, when he was only twelve years old. There were other movies that were also similar to Dating The Enemy in Hollywood, such as Freaky Friday.
Although the movie was not an international success, it was a huge success in Australia. A reason for its success could be that the actors were very popular at that time, especially Guy Pierce. People have been known to see movies for the actors that are in them. Yet, whatever the persons reason for viewing it, the movie was of great success when it was released.
Dating The Enemy was not the only hit that director and screenplay writer Megan Simpson Huberman has created. Her portfolio includes the 1995 television series Fire, which I unfortunately could not find any information on and the 1993 film, Alex. The film Alex was about a girl who dreamed to be in the 1960 Rome Olympics. While her dream was to succeed, she had numerous barriers that she had to overcome to reach her dream. This movie's genre was a drama.
The producer of Dating The Enemy, Sue Milliken was no stranger to producing popular Australian films and television mini series. Her career includes the production of: The Odd Angry Shot in 1979, Sirens in 1994, Paradise Road in 1997 and currently produced the television mini series, My Brother Jack in 2001. These are only a few of her works, her list of works includes nine creations.
One name that I recognized in the list of credits was David Hirschfelder. He is "one of Australia's most outstanding and successful composers" according to www.apple.com . Aside from Dating The Enemy, he has composed music for Ratbag Hero in 1991 and Strictly Ballroom in 1992.
The lead actor and seemingly star of the movie, Guy Pierce had had some previous experience in showing his feminine side. Two years previous to Dating The Enemy, he had appeared as a drag queen in the movie The Adventures of Pricilla: Queen of the Desert. In an interview with him after the release of Dating The Enemy, he discussed how he did not want to be typecast since he had played more feminine characters in his past two films. However, his portrayal of women did not seem to typecast him because he was signed to an agency in Hollywood. There he was in the highly successful movie, LA Confidential. After having various other movie offers in Hollywood, he decided that Hollywood was too aggressive and competitive and he returned to Australian Cinema.
An interesting aspect of the review that interviewed Guy Pierce was that the title of the interview was, "Making of: Dating the Enemy." The report was constructed to discuss what both Guy Pierce and Claudia Karvan experienced during the making of Dating The Enemy. However, this report took a slight twist and focused primarily on Guy Pierce. Not having much knowledge of Australian Cinema, this report led me to believe that Guy Pierce was a more highly acclaimed actor than Claudia Karvan at the time of its release.
Although Claudia Karvan did not receive as much praise as Guy Pierce did for Dating The Enemy, she has made herself noticeable in other movies. In 1993 Claudia won the Australian Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in Heartbreak Kid. Then, in 1998 she earned another nomination for the Best Actress in a leading role in television drama for Never Tell Me Never. As far as what she is currently doing, she will be a part of the Star Wars Episode II cast.
Circumstances of Dating The Enemy's production were the fact that this type of movie has already been made. There was some concern about the movie's success because the director and producer feared that people would think of this movie as another Freaky Friday. Since the movie was similar to past movies, producers needed to give this movie and edge that the other films did not have. The edge that the producers gave was providing more laugher and comical relief in the film.
Although this movie provides comical relief, Dating The Enemy pushes Australian Cinema more towards all other cinema's, especially Hollywood. Therefore, this movie takes away the appeal of Australian films. Australian films seem to pride themselves on originality and introducing new ideas to the public. Had this film been the first Australian film I had viewed, I would assume all Australian films are exactly like Hollywood.
Aside from the harsh criticism that I have given Dating The Enemy I truly enjoyed the film. I was not moved by the film, nor did it leave me in deep though, but it did entertain me and kept my attention for the duration of it. If I were to give the movie a rating, I would give it two and a half stars because it was cute and did have funny parts. I would also recommend this movie to anyone looking for a lighthearted romantic comedy.
All of the information I obtained came from the following web sites (they are also cited in part one of my paper).
Other web sites that I found, but did not use in my research are: