Following 2023's earlier docu-exploitation The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, Netflix has continued a strange tradition of capitalizing off of older, viral news that's far beyond its expiration date. With Longest Third Date, director Brent Hodge recreates the moderately interesting, decently romantic and far too thin story of Khani and Matt, two people who met on the dating app Hinge, decided to spontaneously go to Costa Rica just days before global lockdown, and ended up stuck in a relationship neither of them apparently wanted.
Longest Third Date barely has the bonafides for an entire film. Even at seventy-five minutes, it feels stretched out and packed with unnecessary footage. The story goes that the two met for a meal over Indian food on the first date before a second date with drinks and ax throwing at which Matt strangely invited his best friend Mike, an Asian man almost explicitly there to make the Vietnamese-American Khani feel more comfortable with her White paramour. The third date – Costa Rica for a cheap $200 roundtrip cost on March 17th, 2020.
Hodge makes it easy to judge little things about Khani and Matt's partnership, particularly Matt's apparent Asian fetishism and overly eager quest for social media fame and fortune. There's also the inescapable oddity of these two people choosing to fly days before lockdown hit; while no one could have known the size and scope of the global pandemic, Hodge doesn't exactly let us question why these free spirits thought it a good idea to go to Central America when COVID cases were rapidly rising.
But the bigger judgment should be placed on Hodge and Netflix, which both spurn any and all potentially intriguing aspects of this story for what is essentially a People Magazine-style fluff piece way beyond the fifteen minutes it ought to have been. Oddest of all is that Hodge frames the story like Khani and Matt's status as a couple is a mystery, yet has both of them in physical recreations of their first two dates, kissing and holding hands.
The film is further plagued by a massive overuse of little threads and potential dangers that never crystallize, as if the filmmakers were self-conscious enough of the lack of full story here and felt the need to pad it out with innocuous mini-stories. Matt's history as a vlogger, Khani's pregnancy scares, a crashed car; all of these story elements are mentioned once or twice and never pursued further, leading to the inevitable conclusion of their continued romance. The film auspiciously never interrogates the fact that these two have the fortune of Khani's continued income nor never mentions Matt's, both of which feel like missed opportunities considering this is a romance taking place at the height of an uncommon (and quite deadly) global pandemic in which most people were laid off and many were evicted. No one wanted to be stuck anywhere, but the film frames their "misfortune" of being stuck in Costa Rica as if they were detained behind enemy lines, and not, as it turns out, gleefully jumping from one AirBnB to the next while enjoying private beaches.
Khani and Matt seem like a genuinely sweet couple together, and their romance is indeed uncommon, but as a documentary this leaves almost every provocative piece on the table. At this point it seems like Netflix is deliberately making content that will be forgotten in a week. Luckily for Khani and Matt, it seems their relationship is built to last much longer.