out of Five
Running time: 89
Not quite the disaster you might have heard, this is a passable romantic comedy with a few funny lines and some sweet performances among the Four Weddings-style clichés.
The Wedding Date is a blatant attempt to launch the movie career of Will & Grace star Debra Messing after a string of low-profile supporting roles in films like Along Came Polly and The Mothman Prophecies.
The film itself isn't actually that bad, thanks to a watchable cast and the odd decent line, but it also has more than its fair share of dodgy bits and is unlikely to be the hit it desperately wants to be.
Neurotic Girl Hires Escort For Wedding
Debra Messing stars as Kat Ellis, a neurotic single girl in New York, who hires an escort named Nick (Dermot Mulroney) to pretend to be her boyfriend at her spoiled half-sister's wedding in England. The reason? Well, the best man is Kat's ex-fiancé, Jeffrey (Jeremy Sheffield) - who cruelly dumped her a few weeks before their own wedding - and she wants to make him jealous. However, things don't go exactly according to plan and she finds herself falling for Nick instead…
The film smartly skips over Kat's life in New York, nimbly side-stepping the issue of why she can't get her own date or how she arrived at the decision to pay an escort $6000 instead of just, say, asking one of her male friends.
This judicious editing may come under the heading of Small Mercies, as there are hints that a lengthy New York sequence may have been left on the cutting-room floor (e.g. Nick's reaction to Kat already knowing about his magazine column).
Messing makes a pretty decent rom-com heroine and she wisely opts to distance Kat from her more familiar "Grace" persona. She's not an especially gifted comedienne, but she makes up for it with a bewildering array of endearing facial expressions and a general sweetness. Crucially, she's also surprisingly sexy in her drunken seduction scene.
You'd have thought Dermot Mulroney would have had enough of wedding movies after My Best Friend's Wedding, but he's also pretty good, if a little subdued at times. There's also strong support from the likes of Jack Davenport as well as the always-excellent Holland Taylor (as Bunny) and Peter Egan as Kat's step-father. However, the film is almost completely stolen by Sarah Parish, who gets all the big laughs as Kat's foul-mouthed cousin TJ.
Film Lacks Pizzazz But Manages Twist
The main problem with the film is that it seems to be missing a sequence where we see Kat and Nick actually falling for each other - the script pretty much expects us to take it for granted just because they're the leads. There are also some truly atrocious lines along the lines of "I think I'd miss you even if I'd never met you" that will undoubtedly elicit unintentional laughs because they seem to come from nowhere.
That said, the script does at least manage to pull off an unexpected twist and at least it spares us the awful romcom cliché of having to pry the hero or heroine away from their unsuitable partner (see Sleepless in Seattle, Serendipity, The Wedding Planner etc.) before the leads can get together.
In short, The Wedding Date is forgettable Friday night multiplex fodder but it's just about watchable enough for you to forgive its more obvious flaws, thanks to its sweet performances and a couple of decent laughs.