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It’s My Best Friend’s Wedding all over again, only with a different redhead. This time around, in The Wedding Date, Debra Messing of TV’s “Will & Grace” plays Kat, a recently dumped and hopelessly beautiful New York singleton determined to deal with her sleazy ex-fiancé in a mature, classy and graceful way. Her liberated, “I-will-survive” plan: hire a male escort as a date to her sister’s wedding, where aforementioned wanker is best man.
Soon after the couple greets Kat’s martini–slugging mother and her crass British cousin, the sparks between Kat and her hunky hired help Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney) begin to fly. Before things get too hot and heavy, the festivities are interrupted by a guilty admission on behalf of the bride and the best man. A storm ensues – accompanied unfortunately by a literal storm - between all offended parties, during which ¬Kat and the groom run away. Luckily, Kat hired a sensitive, wise and insightful male escort who doubles as a therapist and moonlights as both Prince Charming and Superman. Nick magically placates tensions and miraculously saves the day, just in time for the wedding.
The romantic half of romantic comedy, ranging from the cheesy classical soundtrack crescendos and the overly pastoral British countryside, to the painfully flat flirtation and lack of chemistry between the leads, dominates what might have been an edgy comedy. There are the occasional underhanded jabs – “Oh sweet mother of Jesus, who gave that woman an amp?” – for which weddings provide the perfect backdrop. A crucial pep talk also allows another brief moment of realism, as Nick suggests to the groom, “You go back and you get to spend the rest of your life having great makeup sex.”
No one ever gave that advice to Prince Charming. Then again, the flawed bride in question is hardly Cinderella. So why try to force the traditional romance crap? That shoe fits neither Kat nor her sister.
Messing is at her best when she’s disheveled, drunk or both. When she wakes from a harrowing sleep during her flight to London, Messing turns on her classic Lucille Ball face – big eyes, cheeks streaked with mascara, frizzy red hair nested on her head. The same face begins to reappear after a few rounds of flaming shots at her sister’s bachelorette party, a night leading to a drunken encounter involving an ATM machine and a tryst in a boat. Messing succeeds as a comedienne faced with the absurdity of a full-time male escort. But sadly, she fails in her portrayal of a serious woman being seduced by him.
If you are male and are dragged kicking and screaming to see The Wedding Date, you can, if nothing else, take some metrosexual cues from Nick Mercer. He sports less than 9% body fat, looks like a cross between George Clooney and a slightly older Ken doll, showers with the door open and nonchalantly makes comments like, “Take a look, it comes with the package.”
Though you probably can’t match his sexy, first-thing-in-the-morning voice, you can probably do better the mechanical tone and canned content of Mulroney’s male whore character. Interestingly, while in bed, Nick mentions he has a comparative literature degree from Brown, illustrating just how free their core curriculum truly is.
If you’re looking for an escapist flick, The Wedding Date enters the eye candy aisle with some cheap laughs and sweet stars. Bottom line: If you think you might like The Wedding Date, you will. If you gagged at the previews, do not waste your time, unless, of course, you really are just that into her.
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