Warning: spoiler alert (this only applies for overzealous purists like myself, non-pedants may find viewing the film after reading my review less than offensive).
A touching comedy about a man seeking love, Steve Baker’s The Video Dating Tape of Desmondo Ray, Aged 33 & 3/4 is, to put it mildly, unusual. As the title suggests, the film’s protagonist Desmondo Ray possesses the infantile tendency to include fractions of years when measuring his (middle) age, implying that he is simultaneously a child and an adult – a theme running throughout the film, and which can only be described as an unsettling kind of gag. Drawing its comic appeal from Desmondo’s hopelessly naive perspective on the more sinister aspects of adult life, Desmondo Ray, Aged 33 & 3/4 bolsters this uneasy comedy-of-contrast by placing its main character, a cartoon, within a live-action setting (a technique also used in Baker’s award winning short film Following).
Ultimately Desmondo’s silliness lures the audience in and invites us to view his perspective of the world condescendingly. However, an utterly sincere act of altruism in the film’s final moments forces us to reevaluate both Desmondo’s attitudes towards love, as well as our own: Stripped of our superiority over him, the audience undergoes a role reversal in which we realise that it is not Desmondo who is mistaken about love, but us (the words of Forrest Gump come to mind; ‘I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is’). And as Megan Carnes‘ melancholic score takes an uplifting turn, we receive Baker’s film in a profound and humbling light, offering our love and respect to Desmondo. A lot of laughs and a lot of heart, Desmondo Ray, Aged 33 & 3/4 is quite unlike anything you will have seen before.
Below I catch up with the love-sick man himself, Desmondo Ray:
Hi Desmondo! I’m writing a review of your lovely dating video & was wondering if you’d like to be interviewed? I hope your dad’s well.
um.. ok.. i think.. i don’t.. um.
Excellent! I’ll take that as a yes. So, I understand you’re looking for love?
yes yes! alllllll you need is love, la dedadeda.. have you heard this song by the Beatles? oh my.
I have Desmondo. In fact, I just quoted John Lennon’s line ‘There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where your meant to be’ for an essay I’m writing about fatalism in film. Do you believe in fate?
i’m, sorry.. i’m not used to the interweb.. or such, um, questions.. i think the fate is confusing.. like time travel.. yes.. but.. i.. i don’t really know.. but, I wonder why mother died.. and, what that means.. and, I don’t know.
I notice that you and your father look very different – would you say that you inherited your mother’s looks?
i.. i think i look like my, um, uncle.. i’m not sure what that means.. i like your smile!