Politics & Policy

A Date to Miss

You can pay for better.

Some films are so bad it seems a tragic waste of time even bothering to describe the details of their dreadfulness. In such instances, the film critic wishes she had the option of simply writing, “This is an awful, awful movie. If you spend a single dime gaining admission to this 90-minute affront to morality, creativity, and reality that could otherwise be spent on some worthwhile cause surely God will record it among the most egregious sins of your life, and you will be called on to justify it come Judgment Day.”

Unfortunately, at only 57 words, readers might find such a brief review something of a rip off and perhaps infer that said critic is lazy. Because the critic refuses to accept this label (however true the accusation of it may be), a full review follows. Nevertheless, there really is nothing else that need be said about the abominable The Wedding Date, and everything from this point on has little purpose other than to provide a bit of reading exercise.

As the movie opens we are unceremoniously dropped into the middle of a business transaction between Kat (Debra Messing), a customer-service representative humiliated at the idea of seeing her ex-fiancé at her younger sister’s wedding, and Nick (Dermot Mulroney), the male prostitute she hires to pose as her boyfriend so the aforementioned ex will be tormented by jealousy.

The script offers no other background as to why the beautiful Kat can’t come up with a real date or what happened with her ex that would make her desperate enough to deal in the sex trade. Apparently the merits of the gigolo she employs are supposed to be enough to make us forget such pesky questions, and, as we might expect, he is not your average “professional.” Not only is Nick devastatingly handsome, he’s also wise, sensitive, and has a degree in comparative literature from Brown. Now if only he could act (and, well, didn’t have sex for money), he’d be the perfect man!

True, Dermot Mulroney is handsome in a grown-up, rugged kind of way that is desperately needed in a cinema landscape awash in Leonardo DiCaprios and Jude Laws. But it would be nice if Hollywood could find someone who not only has the masculine presence of a Clark Gable or a Cary Grant, but who, like those legends, could also crack a joke every once in awhile. Mulroney delivers every line as if his mother just died. Even his seduction is depressing.

Of course, given the material he has to work with, it’s not entirely his fault. After having little more than a couple of scenes of chitchat with Kat, he is forced to utter, “Even if I never met you, I think I’d miss you.” Considering his job, some women might take this kind of forced intimacy as a warning they have a stalker on their hands. Not Kat–she falls head over heels just as easily. Only 20 minutes after commenting that she finds his line of work “morally reprehensible” she’s hitting ATMs so that she can upgrade to a higher selection of “services.”

Distracting us from the charming love story of Kat and Nick are several secondary plot lines that evidently have no purpose except to provide characters whose behavior is even more appalling. But rather than casting the lovebirds in a more favorable light, Kat’s cheating sister and foul-mouthed best friend simply suggest that fowls of a feather flock together. Then finally, adding insult to injury, after a disjointed collage of romantic-comedy clichés that are supposed to suffice as a dramatic arc, the film dares to offer postscripts letting us know what this couple we don’t like and don’t understand will be up to in the future.

The only positive thing that can be said for The Wedding Date is that for some completely inexplicable reason it is set in England and so includes some lovely pastoral scenery and some interesting looking hats. If you think that’s reason enough for you to spend $8.50 on it, may God have mercy on your soul.

Megan Basham is a freelance writer in Phoenix, Arizona, and a current Phillips Foundation fellow.

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