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May 12, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | May 12, 2006 |

The Wedding Date is not as insufferable as one would be led to believe by the trailers. It’s no damn good, to be sure; it’s bland, preprogrammed to the nth degree and exceedingly conventional, but nothing that inspires the sort of loathing one might feel for, say, J. Lo’s romantic-comedy oeuvre. There is little joy to be had in The Wedding Date, but at least it’s harmless boredom, the sort of movie that would feel right at home on an airplane in front of countless dozing passengers.

Debra Messing (“Will and Grace”) plays one of those “zany” New Yorkers with the canned neuroses and a frazzled self-esteem. A customer service rep for Virgin Airlines, she has dipped into her 401K to procure the services of Nick (Dermot Mulroney), a high-class call-boy handsomely compensated to attend the wedding of Kat’s British half-sister, Amy (Amy Adams), to make Kat’s ex-fiance jealous and, invariably, to fall exasperatingly in love with Kat.

Unfortunately, the movie is rife with predictability, which lies in the inescapability of its reverse Pretty Woman setup. Both Kat and Nick are too attractive for anyone else onscreen; the ex-fiance is a daft prick; almost nothing is made of the fact that Nick fucks other women for a living and may or may not transmit STD’s; and Kat gets drunk at the bachelorette party; so, really, what choice does she have other than to hook up with the ready-and-able Nick, the only male prostitute in cinematic history who is less interesting than Deuce Bigalow.

And speaking of male whores, when did it become OK in mainstream cinema to romanticize the hooking profession? Here is a man who charges $6,000 to be Kat’s male escort, $1,700 for flesh-on-flesh intimacy, and another $300 to allow her to give him head, yet we are expected to look past all that because Nick gives the money back in the end? Never mind that the man has had his penis in half the orifices in New York, somehow the ladies are expected to forgive and forget, to coo and ahh because he professes to Kat that “he’d miss her even if he’d never met her”? I know tax attorneys who couldn’t get away with less. I suppose, however, that tax attorneys don’t have an ass that moves like that of Mulroney, which just goes to show you women will overlook anything for the chance to give a hot guy a hummer, or at least that’s what the filmmakers would have us believe.

The Wedding Date doesn’t have much going for it, but its one saving grace is that at least it doesn’t try too hard. Dana Fox’s script is full of mundane, self-help platitudes, but Messing and Mulroney have sense enough to deliver them with some subtlety, instead of trying to overact the script into shape. It would have been easy for the principals to embarrass themselves, but they do manage to bring some charisma to their stale characters, especially Messing, who at least pushes on the doors of her one-dimensionality. Messing, god bless her, does all she can to rid herself of any of her Gracisms; unfortunately, that may have actually worked to the detriment of her character, which could have used some of the quirky energy she brings to her television role.

Claire Kilner, who has regressed as a director since her last movie, Mandy Moore’s How To Deal, tries vainly to conjure up the magic of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill by setting the entire film in London and including a cast of English characters with half-hearted idiosyncrasies straight out of the Britcom factory, none of which stirs even the mildest amusement. Kilner stitches scenes together with no eye toward the end product, offering nothing in the way of a back story, and throwing in bizarrely absurd cutaways, like having the camera linger briefly on the back of Messing’s knee for no other reason than to arouse the prurient nature of knee pit enthusiasts. She does, however, successfully infuse The Wedding Date with enough light-heartedness to make it feel like disposable entertainment, the sort of bad candy that doesn’t taste very good, but at least it doesn’t leave a bad aftertaste.

Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and lord over a small online publishing fiefdom. He lives in Ithaca, New York.

The Wedding Date / Dustin Rowles

Film | May 12, 2006 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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