Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mediocre "Wedding Date" embraces rom-com conventions

The Wedding Date (2005) 
85 min., rated PG-13.

Equal to a Plain Jane, "The Wedding Date" is a perfectly tolerable but mediocre piffle of a romantic sitcom. It embraces genre conventions without shame and even includes a lot of recognizable songs that were a hit a decade ago. The whole movie also feels about a decade too old. Finally, Debra Messing, so likable and funny on TV's “Will & Grace,” gets her first lead film role. Not a far stretch from her small-screen Grace, Messing plays desperate, anxious New Yorker Kat, who's in her 30s and single. She pays a studly male escort named Nick (Dermot Mulroney) $6,000 to pose as her boyfriend at her half-sister's (Amy Adams) nuptials in London, where she plans to make her ex-fiancĂ©e (also the best man) jealous. 

A kind of “Pretty Man” to that timeless Julia Roberts/Richard Gere romantic comedy (what's the name of it again?), "The Wedding Date" won't take a rocket scientist to know where it's headed. And yet, it's virtually painless. Messing is a pro at playing wildly neurotic, but charming, ninnies and Mulroney is suavely appealing as the gigolo without being unctuous, and together they make an attractive couple. But while easy on the eyes, their characters aren't very fleshed out (Nick “majored in Comparative Literature at Brown?") and neither are their motivations. 

Clare Kilner generically directing it all with a light, champagne touch, "The Wedding Date" is lukewarm as a comedy, cold as a romance, and comes to a melodramatic halt with its tacked-on soap opera confrontations (the bride has a secret, the groom is an unlucky schmuck, the best man a jerk). But British newcomer Sarah Parish as a lusty, loudmouthed bridesmaid (who resembles a younger Margot Kidder) overshadows everybody and gives the film a lift; she's a hoot and delivers some hilariously acidic one-liners, if only her character was handed more scenes. 

Otherwise, this is so forgettable and indistinguishable that you should just go back and watch "Pretty Woman," "My Best Friend's Wedding," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," or catch Messing on “Will & Grace” before the series signs off for its last season.   

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