Film ó The Wedding Date (PG-13)

The Wedding Date (PG-13)

by Amy Diaz

Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney get us queasy just in time for Valentineís Day with the rancid chocolate truffle The Wedding Date, a romantic comedy that could easily put you off both love and humor.

Even comedy, and especially bad comedy, has an expiration date. To the Rubber Chicken Memorial List of Things That Are No Longer Funny you can now add girls falling on their butts and then doing the Julia Roberts giggle-guffaw, a man in a fancy tux chasing another nattily dressed man, drunken British relatives, a 30-plus-year-old woman who pretends to be shocked by a penis and that jittery Lucille-Ball-on-Ritalin-slapstick Debra Messing has perfected. Sure, Grace may work fine, but only if thereís a Will & in front of it. On her own, itís like drinking creamer and sugar without the coffee.

However, comedy need not feel picked on by the hash of leftover plot components that is the reheated macaroni casserole of The Wedding Date. The romance piece of this half-baked tale is equally unappealing. Therefore, to the Meg Ryan Memorial List of Things That Are No Longer Romantic you can add prostitutes of either gender with a heart of gold, fights about drunken sex, montages set to 1980s pop ballads, car chases to find your true love and that everyone-pairs-off dance sequence required by law in all movies featuring a wedding.

Specific to this movie: several scenes involving Katís (Messing) half-sister Amy (Amy Adams), whose wedding is the setting for this wormy cupcake, are meant, I think, to involve humor based on her bridezilla wedding-centric world view. These scenes are not funny, made all the less humorous and more ear-bleeding by Adamsí drunken, tertiary-character-on-The-OC line reading. Also, many scenes feature what I believe is supposed to be banter between Kat and male escort Nick Mercer (Mulroney) about the nature of a womanís love life. Utterly lacking in chemistry or even sense, these scenes arenít just unromantic ó they, like bad shellfish, can cause nausea, vomiting and, when later remembered, an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth.

Because, you see, this isnít just a relationship movie, itís a high-concept romantic-comedy. We canít just have two people meet leading to the usual attraction, barrier, crisis, resolution finally ending in a love connection. Oh, no. Kat has to be a nut job who, incapable of facing three days with her family as a single member of her sisterís wedding party, hires a man to play the part of her boyfriend. (Heís also there to make an ex-fiancť jealous but that whole plot is so ludicrous that even the movie drops it after a while.) Naturally, heís quite the charmer and everyone ó male or female ó likes his confidence and his oft-stated though never demonstrated skill at dealing with the female heart. Just as naturally, Kat finds herself falling for him too.

Does Nick fall for Kat? We actually never know because Mulroneyís approach to dealing with such dull material is to attempt to out-dull it. He shows no emotion throughout the movie and might, at some points, actually be unconscious. Lucky him.

The film lurches from one scene of forced wedding joviality to the next ó though the scenes feel as forced as the wedding events, so we donít even get the natural humor that could come off the absurdity of having what seemed like three rehearsal dinners. There is a pervasive and increasingly harmful sense of choppiness to the story. I felt like I missed important scenes ó scenes that would explain how Nick felt about Kat, why Katís family was so bitchy, what admirable qualities either Nick or Kat has that would encourage anyone to find them appealing.

Overall The Wedding Date feels like a big fancy yet shallow wedding that, though stylishly decorated, is not going to lead to a happy marriage.

- Amy Diaz

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