The Wedding Date (2005) / Drama-Romance

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content and sexual dialogue (edited down from an R)
Running Time: 90 min.

Cast: Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney, Jeremy Sheffield, Amy Adams, Jack Davenport, Sarah Parish, Peter Egan, Holland Taylor, Jolyon James
Director: Clare Kilner
Screenplay: Dana Fox (based on the book, "Asking for Trouble" by Elizabeth Young)
Review published February 24, 2005

Some of you may be thinking that I have incorrectly dubbed The Wedding Date a drama, when it was so clearly marketed as a light romantic comedy.  I suppose one could make the case for the latter, but as I watched the events play out, I'm at a loss to find what that was remotely amusing about anything that happens in the course of the movie.  I'm not even trying to slam the film for trying to be funny and not delivering, either -- I don't even think the filmmakers bothered with the attempt.  Not that it really matters, as I'd rather view a decent romantic drama than a romantic comedy that forces humor at every turn.  Unfortunately, The Wedding Date is so devoid of anything remarkable or substantive, it basically is only of interest for people who are planning a wedding and want some tips about what kind of layout to strive for. 

Debra Messing (Along Came Polly, Hollywood Ending) stars as Kat Ellis, who has received an invitation to return to London to attend her sister's (Amy Adams, Catch Me If You Can) wedding.  The problem is that she has no one in her life, and with her former fiancé (Jeremy Sheffield, Creep) also in attendance, she wants to show off a new guy to make him jealous.  Her best bet is to hire a male escort, arriving in the form of the high-priced Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney, About Schmidt), who is handsome, suave and sophisticated -- and will do nearly anything she wants, provided it is covered in the agreement.  However, strange things are going on underneath the surface of the wedding preparations, as well as in the relationship between Kat and Nick, causing tensions to mount as the wedding day approaches.

There have been quite a few successful romantic comedies to center around weddings in the last decade (My Best Friend's Wedding, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and Four Weddings and a Funeral are the most notable), so people aching to see this one will probably expect another funny film full of eccentric characters and madcap events galore.  None of this happens.  In fact, the film has almost no plot for the first hour, as we watch many random scenes involving the pre-wedding partying and festivities where everyone makes goo-goo eyes at each other, and people all fawn over Kat's handsome pretend beau.  At about the twenty minute mark, I started to wonder when the film was going to begin.  This quandary occurred again at the thirty minute mark, then the forty, then the fifty.  Eventually, cohesiveness and the semblance of meaning do finally emerge in some soap opera worthy developments, but these events are so unworthy of making a film out of, you'll wonder why this sort of film couldn't have just been made as a Hallmark Movie Channel entry, instead of wasting our time and money to see such a paltry turn of events.

Messing and Mulroney are likeable actors, but somehow don't seem to fit their roles enough here.  Messing plays quirky quite well, but Kat is such a nondescript character, she has little to do.  Mulroney's character is even more thin, only required to keep a good profile at all times, but as written, he never really gets to show one iota of actual charisma.  That would be fine for a male escort role, since he is supposed to be just window dressing, but even in the intimate moments, there is never really any reason to believe that Kat and Nick would really find deep, heartfelt feeling in one another to justify any continuing, self-sacrificing relationship.

It's as if director Clare Kilner (How to Deal, Janice Beard) watched all of the wedding movies of the last ten years with the sound off, and tried her best to emulate what she perceived to be the appeal, throwing in fisticuffs and the obligatory chase at the end, without ever really tapping into just what made these films so appealing to begin with.  By the time the credits roll, you'll probably just shrug and go on about your day as if nothing happened, and tomorrow you'll have probably forgotten all about this wafer-thin attempt at another wedding comedy (I mean, drama).  The only conflict that will arise during this whole bland affair will be the debate about which is the biggest waste of money -- hiring a $2000 male escort or whatever cash you shelled out to see a movie this insipid.

Qwipster's rating:

©2005 Vince Leo