The Stuff McNightmares Are Made Of
Made Of Honor / Agent Bedhead
Film Reviews | May 2, 2008 | Comments ()
Take every wedding-oriented romantic comedy that you’ve ever seen and pluck out each well-worn cliché that you can possibly imagine. Then, use a shiny, pastel ribbon to all of them together into a fragrant, utterly extravagant bouquet, and, while standing directly in front of the most pathetic bridesmaid, toss the bouquet right over your shoulder. See what sticks, and you’ll somehow end up with a more interesting story than the latest romcom from a cast member of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Made Of Honor manages to shuffle awkwardly through a predictable, seemingly endless laundry list of cinematic bridal stereotypes — the Scottish wedding theme complete with bagpipes and haggis, the fat bridesmaid (Emily Nelson) who squeezes into a size 8 dress, and the last minute horseback ride to the church — without any sense of imagination. It’s just yet another fairy tale where no one learns a lesson, yet all live happily motherfucking after. So, ladies, don’t believe what common sense has to offer, for you really can change a man — that is, if you’re willing to waste a decade of your life doing so. Then, the self-absorbed cad will suddenly realize the error of his ways through no volition of his own. Good times.
Made Of Honor begins in 1998 when Tom (Patrick Dempsey) meets Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) for the first time when, in a case of “mistaken identity,” Tom accidentally climbs into the wrong girl’s dormroom bed. She pushes him away, and, since Tom’s reputation precedes him, Hannah tells him, in no subtle way, that she would never sleep with a guy like him. This piques his interest, of course, but he settles for a platonic yet inexplicably enduring friendship. This opening scene is actually pretty remarkable because of the outstanding makeup work done on on Dempsey, who appears just as he did on that riding lawnmower at the end of Can’t Buy Me Love. It’s a pity that, sometime during Made Of Honor’s ten year period between college and the present, the makeup crew pretty much lost interest, so, instead of his character’s thirtyish age, Dempsey appears as his true fortyish self. This is just one of the many examples of the film’s laziness and inability to follow though on its initial setup.
Ten years after graduation, Tom and Hannah are still best friends and both reside in New York City. They go for coffee and lunch together on weekdays and quaintly spend their Sunday afternoons in antique shops. For platonic friends, they seem overly touchy feely while strolling arm-in-arm through the park and eating off each other’s plates in restaurants. Tom has everything - Hannah as his companion and no-strings sex elsewhere — that he could possibly want from women. In addition, he is also everything — handsome, successful, rich, and the perfect storm of STDs — that a woman could ever want. So, an endless string of babes fall into bed with McShirtless, and they don’t even mind being relegated to one date per week — just so long as they have the continued opportunity to occasionally bask in the glory of his sheepish grin and everpresent 5’clock shadow. The film’s misogynistic streak doesn’t end there, for when we meet Tom’s father (a slumming Sydney Pollack) at his sixth wedding, it’s pretty obvious where Tom acquired his McDouchebag ways.
Despite being a total dick, Tom has always fallen into good fortune, both literally and in the bedroom, and he has always scored big with minimal effort. Apparently, Tom is that guy who invented the “coffee collar” and, consequently, he earns 10 cents for every collar used by Starbucks customers. Similarly, he’s always had an easy time where women are concerned, and his nights are filled with the strenuous activity of, um, filling various women. However, when Hannah jets to Scotland for a six-week work project, the serial womanizer gets lonely and realizes that what he’s always been searching for…. has been right in front of him all this time. Unfortunately, Tom’s tone and demeanor betray the fact that Dempsey is fairly incapable of communicating any character depth beyond the perennially sheepish shrug and grin. And, although Tom didn’t experience any emotional growth during the ten years after college, we are expected to believe that, “The Fornicator” has fallen in love with Hannah, and when she returns from Scotland with a fiancé in tow, Tom makes it his mission to “steal the bride.” So, he accepts the position as head bridesmaid and resolves to McCockblock the impending nuptuals from within. Naturally, this leads to many gay jokes and a mini-kilted Dempsey, complete with a from-below shot of his tightey whities, which isn’t nearly as appealing as it may sound.
The entirety of Made Of Honor rests upon the slightly offbeat premise that a woman can choose a man to be her “maid of honor.” This is simply a reversal of the Julia Roberts and Dulmott Mulroney roles in My Best Friend’s Wedding, and it took three screenwriters — Adam Sztykiel, Harry Elfont, and Deborah Kaplan — to come up with this. Yes, through one emasculating switch of roles, gender equality has been achieved, and, as far as this film is concerned, the work is done. Hell, the script is even lazier than Dempsey’s acting. Admittedly, he did a decent job in Enchanted of playing the immutable nice guy for which Amy Adam’s princess slowly realizes her preference. However, just switch those roles as well, and Made Of Honor sees the princesslike Tom reacting to the reliable, sturdy Hannah. Sadly, Dempsey simply isn’t talented enough to carry off any role requiring a life-altering transformation or crisis of conscience.
For her part, Michelle Monaghan is given little to do besides look irresistable and smile prettily throughout. Fortunately, some of the supporting players — Whitney Cummings as a peacemaking bridesmaid and Kadeem Hardison as Felix, the voice of reason — are quite good and manage to extend their characters’ limited presence within the completely awful script. In addition, the soundtrack’s bizarre preference for Oasis tunes doesn’t quite fit, and it never ceases to amaze how many uses for Tomoyasu Hotei’s “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” that filmmakers are willing to attempt. Director Paul Weiland (City Slickers II — The Legend Of Curly’s Gold) manages to do just one thing right here, which is to present some great travel porn of both New York City and the Scottsh lowlands. Weiland really should swap out his career for still photography, or, for that matter, anything but directing films.
Agent Bedhead (a.k.a. “Kimberly”) lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.