Join or Sign In
Sign in to customize your TV listings
It's sure to push buttons
You've definitely experienced something like this. You are at an event — maybe something for work or an excursion at a destination wedding — and you find yourself with two other people. They are upbeat and charming, and you think, "OK, if I'm gonna be stuck with strangers, I'm glad it's these two." And then, at some point along the way, it hits you: Dear God, these people are dumb.
Longest Third Date is a ripped-from-your-Instagram-feed Netflix documentary that hums along at a brisk pace (75 minutes including credits!) and tells the unusual tale of Khani Le and Matt Robertson, two urban millennials who photograph well and met on the dating app Hinge. Their first date, drinks at a trendy Indian restaurant, goes well. The second one, at a bar where you can also hurl axes at the wall (there are several such places in New York City currently), goes even better.
It's a chaste affair thus far, but there's potential. There's also the freedom of youth (he's 31, she's 29) and disposable income. For a third date, Matt suggests via text that they should do a quick vacation somewhere beautiful and cheap — like Costa Rica. Despite Khani's friends warning that Matt clearly is a serial killer, she agrees. Fun? Fun! But wait …
Footage of the two at the airport (and we'll get to why there's footage in just a minute) was shot on March 17, 2020.
Now, there's plenty that is fuzzy about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, but one thing is clear: by March 17, six days after "The Day Everything Changed," which included the dramatic last-minute cancellation of the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder game and Tom Hanks announcing that he and Rita Wilson had the mystery ailment, everyone knew that you shouldn't be galavanting around the globe for no reason. Especially if you lived in New York City, which was already seeing a serious spread and had canceled all public school sessions.
I remember my wife sewing bandanas together because we couldn't find masks anywhere for our lightning-quick trips to the grocery store. And I remember thinking, "Who are these idiots walking around in a daze, doing normal things, mask-free, unaware that airborne death is swirling around them?" Well, now I know who two of these bozos were: Khani and Matt.
OK, so they take a (very empty) plane, have a great few days in a resort (I've been to Costa Rica; it is, indeed, lovely), and get to know one another a little better. She is a very guarded young woman who works in PR and is pointedly not looking for a long-term relationship, and he has (or had?) some kind of job in marketing for liquor companies. And he's a wannabe YouTuber.
This is a source of great cringe, as the man bun-wearing Matt is constantly taping everything, but his tenacity with the camera means that he's unintentionally ended up with this curious social document. (Indeed, their story would not exist beyond a three-year-old viral headline were it not for the footage.)
Then the punchline happens: no flights back to the United States. They extend their stay and note that things back home are weird. Khani's mother is a nurse, and Matt's grandfather lives in an assisted living facility with a confirmed case of the virus. Gee, should they have been taking this seriously?
Before they can question their attitude to the world around them, their hotel closes. They find an Airbnb and, isolated except for emergency shopping, find themselves cosplaying as a married couple. They maintain good cheer (maybe here's where playing for the camera helped things), but it starts to get weird.
By this point in the documentary, if you are honest about things, you will begin shouting two questions at the television. One: Who's paying for all this? Two: Are these two people [and here you can insert your phrase of choice for "enjoying a consensual, intimate relationship"]? At the 27-minute mark, that second question is answered with a "boy howdy and yes!" Good for them, I suppose, until there are some shenanigans with some off-brand birth control. The first question, however, is never really discussed. Khani, at least, is shown FaceTiming in to work regularly. God knows what Captain Vlogger actually does to earn a living.
Hijinks ensue (like getting their car stuck in a lagoon and needing the locals to help pull it out, while they stand there filming), but eventually a story emerges. This third date lasts for three months. In the words of Calvin Harris featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, and Big Sean, are they afraid to catch feels? Suffice to say part of the selling point of this li'l movie is that it has a nice, happy ending.
Khani and Matt definitely had a kind of hardship during the early days of the pandemic. They were separated from everyone they knew and stuck with someone they didn't really know, and one of their Airbnbs had a lot of bugs. But they also had nonstop cocktails in paradise while everyone in New York City went insane. I don't know just how sympathetic we need to be here.
The film, patched together from Matt's archive with new narration/interview footage, comes to use from Brent Hodge, who also made Pharma Bro, about Martin Shkreli. I mean no disrespect when I say that Hodge's work here isn't a reflection of Instagram culture so much as an extension of it. Longest Third Date is very watchable, and it actually lends itself nicely to conversations. Weirdly, movies like this almost feel like a vital, and somewhat new, part of our culture right now. It isn't what I would typically call good cinema, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't eventually get engaged.
Premieres: Tuesday, April 18 on Netflix
Who's behind it: Brent Hodge (director)
For fans of: Following other people's drama on Instagram