starring Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Adams, Holland Taylor
screenplay by Dana Fox, based on the novel Asking for Trouble by Elizabeth Young
directed by Clare Kilner
by Walter Chaw With Dermot Mulroney playing some kind of android gigolo and Debra Messing bronzed in her syndicated brand of humiliated never-a-bride shtick honed through years on "Must-See TV," The Wedding Date doesn't, at least, always accidentally resemble a horror flick, unlike director Clare Kilner's previous film, the creepy How to Deal. What it does is remind a lot of Pretty Woman if the whore in question were a charisma vacuum instead of Julia Roberts, and it finds work as a WASP bitch's-bitch of a mother for the hopelessly typecast Holland Taylor. It's the kind of film focus-grouped to such a precise dot that everyone in any audience that willingly attends the thing will not only be able to name each brand of luggage the characters use, but will do so with joy and pride.
Probably called "The Wedding Date" (even though it's based on a novel called Asking For Trouble) because R&D told them that "wedding" titles (The Wedding Singer, The Wedding Planner) are safer bets than "trouble" titles (Big Trouble, Nothing But Trouble), the picture follows the jolly misadventures of nervous OCD headcase Kat (Messing) as she hires a man-whore to accompany her to her half-sister Amy's (Amy Adams) wedding in London, where the two women grew up as expats. Seems Kat's fresh off the best man jilting her, something that mother (Taylor) mentions in her welcome speech, and so Kat wants her robo-beau Nick (Mulroney) around to make her ex green with male sexual jealousy. But, lo, Kat and Nick fall in love instead! How delightfully unexpected! Especially because both have the emotive range of a rubber brick and the emotional intelligence of the same. As one tells the other that love is in the air, I thought it fair to wonder who they were talking about.
Of course there's a wacky, foul-mouthed cousin (Sarah Parish) for comic relief; a couple of meek bedroom fracases; a couple of misunderstandings and secrets; and the requisite moment where the prostitute gets offended by the offer of money for services rendered. What a topsy-turvy world is this rom-com universe: a happy wonderland in which weddings are hilariously sabotaged and streetwalkers suddenly develop morals about taking money for doing their jobs. Messing's entire shtick seems to have something to do with being surprised while leaving a bathroom and getting ploughed on a boat (see also: Along Came Polly, wherein she plays opposite the man version of herself, Ben Stiller), and Mulroney--an actor I've enjoyed in other films--is just awful here, caught like a deer in the headlights of a really bad career decision in a turn that reminds a lot of Ralph Fiennes's stammering swallow in Maid in Manhattan.
Essentially "The Legend of Shagger Vance" (one part Four Weddings and a Funeral, one part all-white Song of the South) with a mystical cipher helping to guide the decisions of the rich and privileged, The Wedding Date is the kind of garbage where, when something sad happens, it starts to rain. Kilner, for all her magnificent shortcomings as a director, demonstrates a weird auteur tendency by, as in How to Deal, referencing Star Wars without warning in the middle of another gynaecological melodrama. Meaning, basically, that it's going to be lost on the audience for her films and serves as just another example of what happens when a boat is christened without a captain at the rudder. Let's face it, without a rudder, period. Originally published: February 4, 2005.