The Wedding Date is like a relationship that goes terribly wrong – when it’s best to just learn from the mistakes, move on and eventually forget it ever happened.
The storyline is shoplifted directly out of Julia Roberts’ Pretty Woman, with the supposedly amusing switch being that the guy is the call girl in this one.
Debra Messing (Will & Grace) stars as the relationship-handicapped Kat, who we’re introduced to after she’s already enlisted Nick (Dermot Mulroney of My Best Friend’s Wedding) to be her hooker-for-hire date to her sister’s wedding.
With the little plot that’s spoken of, you can decipher that her last breakup was tough to take and her ex is going to be at the wedding. So Kat comes up with the scatterbrained idea of hiring an escort to be her date to try to make her ex jealous, while putting on a happy face for her family.
But by having the movie start with Mick already employed, we never get a glimpse as to why she would need a prostitute to be her date, why she’s so tormented to please her family, or even anything about her. Instead it only serves as a foreshadowing to how little effort director Clare Kilner and screenwriter Dana Fox seem to have placed in their story.
Predictably, the direction doesn’t get any better. Conversations take place without meaning, scenes end on a whim and transitions are non-existent throughout the picture. To say this film is amateurish would be generous – a film student wouldn’t even hand this in.
Kilner makes mention that Nick was a comparative literature graduate of Brown University, only to dismiss the information like it’s normal to have chosen to be a prostitute instead.
By the end of the film a character is faced with a life-changing decision: at a crossroads, he has to decide whether to go back and marry the woman who cheated on him. It’s not giving anything away to say that he’s talked into marrying her based solely on the prospect of – ludicrously – “makeup sex!”
A romantic comedy that’s neither romantic nor funny, the only thing this film has going for it is its timing. Its producers having had the good sense to deliver it during the worst season for new releases – after the Oscar contenders – and two weeks before Valentine’s Day. Best case scenario is that it makes a few bucks back and its stars aren’t totally humiliated by the experience.
The final result leaves Debra Messing still searching for the role that will lift her out of her television-typecasting. After her moderately successful role in Along Came Polly, alongside fellow sitcom starlet Jennifer Aniston, Messing was hoping Wedding Date would open doors for her once Will & Grace invariably ends in the next few seasons. Wedding Date is more likely to slam those doors shut.
But while neither Messing or Mulroney were ready to carry a movie, the real fault has to be placed with director Clare Kilner, who up till now had experience directing only the Mandy Moore starring vehicle How to Deal. She’s unable to tell a story, tie together scenes or make anything remotely interesting. And she makes The Wedding Date the early odds-on favorite to sweep the Razzies next year.
Brian Mulligan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.