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Film / Mystery Date

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Mystery Date is a 1991 teen comedy film directed by Jonathan Wacks and starring Ethan Hawke, Teri Polo, and Brian McNamara. Hawke plays Tom McHugh, a teenage boy who's waiting for the perfect time to ask out the cute girl next door. Tom's older brother, Craig, ostensibly a lawyer in California, show up and sets the date up, furnishing Tom with new clothes, a new haircut, and money for the evening. Before the night is over, Tom's been slapped repeatedly by women who know Craig, he's shot somebody, and he may have fallen for this girl. Oh, and there are two bodies in the trunk...

For the board game, see here.


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This film exhibits the following tropes

  • Bad Date: Pretty much everything that can go wrong on the date does. And he still gets the girl.
  • Broken Pedestal: Tom always looked up to Craig, as did his parents. Unfortunately, Craig is apparently a thief, a murderer, and a cad.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Dwight gets stiffed on his tip, crashes his florist van, gets harassed by the police when he gets caught by a pool of blood, falls off of a bridge, and barely avoids getting run over by a train. Then, he gets stiffed for his tip again.
  • The Cameo: Shock rock band GWAR are playing at Club Voltaire.
  • Cool Car: Craig's 1959 DeSoto Firesweep.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The man on the second floor of Club Voltaire writes a dying message implicating his murderer and indicating the prior location of the McGuffin.
  • Destination Defenestration: The martial artist at Mr. Lew's does a flying kick at Tom... and gets the window instead.
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  • Dirty Cop: Most of the people pursuing Tom/Craig are doing so because the tape implicates them.
  • Dying Clue: The man on the second floor of Club Voltaire writes the name of his killer and a message in Chinese.
  • Hollywood Spelling: Averted. At one point, a man killed by Craig McHugh gets his name written as McQ by his victim.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: Lew offers to trade Geena for the vase.
  • Karma Houdini: At the end of the film, Craig has gotten away with at least two murders and got his payment, and everyone who was looking for him thinks he's dead.
  • MacGuffin: The vase. Or rather, the tape that was in the vase.
  • Mistaken Identity: People keep mistaking Tom for Craig. This is because Craig set Tom up as his alibi for the night.
  • Naughty Birdwatching: Tom "makes good use" of Craig's old telescope with the girl next door.
  • Ransacked Room: Both the McHugh house and Craig's apartment.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Averted. Lew's men put Geena into a proper armbar.
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