February 04, 2005

The Wedding Date

Directed by Clare Kilner Starring Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney

Reviewed by Martin Tsai

For or better or worse, moviegoers remain faithful to cinematic weddings. Be it Muriel's, Betsy's or Julia Roberts' best friend's. Be it American, Polish, or big fat Greek. Even the banquet, the planner and the singer seem to get warm receptions at the box office. If they throw in three extra weddings and a funeral, they'll even win over Academy voters. Geniuses in Hollywood must have figured that the nuptial theme and a Pretty Woman twist would make a perfect match. But with tin cans of well-worn clich├ęs in tow, The Wedding Date should probably have kept its better-suited original title, Something Borrowed.

Debra Messing is Kat, a single, flaky Kirsten Dunst-esque Manhattanite who would be more convincing as a Californian. Her half-sister Amy (Amy Adams) is a spunky Reese Witherspoon-ish bride-to-be. One can only imagine other A-listers who might have turned down this film. Anyway, Kat rents escort Nick (Dermot Mulroney) to accompany her to London to attend Amy's wedding, so she can alleviate put-downs from her mother (Holland Taylor) and also one-up a heartless old flame (Jeremy Sheffield) who happens to be the best man. Much to her surprise, Nick turns out to be a dreamy hooker with an Ivy League education and (gasp!) a heart of gold. Money apparently can indeed buy you love.

Aside from its derivativeness, the film is often absurd. Elizabeth Young's source novel, Asking for Trouble, is an opportunistic Bridget Jones knock-off complete with that oh-so-charming Englishness. By converting half of the characters to American ex-pats, The Wedding Date divorces itself from the most interesting aspect of the novel. Screenwriter Dana Fox doesn't attempt to make up for the awkwardness brought about by the change. Instead she showers the script with more glaring plot holes - such as Kat trying to board an international flight out of JFK 15 minutes before departure, which would be impossible even in a pre-9/11 world.

Unlike most romantic comedies about matrimony, the film is rarely festive or even intentionally funny. Fox's inept screenplay hopelessly tries to inform sketchy back stories and nonexistent character developments to no avail. Characters incessantly blab out their every thought, to the point that they don’t seem to care about others listening in on their private conversations. When a nasty can of worms opens in the film's final act, you'll wish the theatre lobby had an open bar.

Reprinted from WestEnder. © Copyright 2005 Martin Tsai. All rights reserved.