U.S. Release Date: February 4, 2005
Distributor: Universal
Writer: Dana Fox
Producer: Jessica Bendinger, Paul Brooks, Scott Niemeyer (executive)
Cast: Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Adams, Jack Davenport
Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (sexual content including dialogue)

My Worst Friend's Wedding
by Scott Holleran

Will and Grace star Debra Messing gets top billing in the frivolous The Wedding Date, which holds both bride and groom in the lowest esteem. Based on one of those bad novels publishing types call Chick Lit, adapted by newcomer Dana Fox, and directed by Clare Kilner, it's custom-tailored for Messing, the latest appealing actress to be reduced to a blithering idiot for the screen. This is what happens when a certain type of female viewpoint dominates a movie.

Messing portrays someone like her television character, which is grating enough. When the movie opens, the New York woman is nervously waiting to meet the high-class male prostitute (Dermot Mulroney) she found in the want ads. Her scheme—to put one over on her family at her half-sister's wedding and make everyone, including her ex-boyfriend, jealous—does not wear well on an adult.

Anyone who would borrow against her 401(k)—let alone use the money to hire a hooker—is seriously out of whack, no matter how good she looks and Messing, decked in Louise Page's classy, colorful dresses and gowns, looks as scrumptious as an ice cream cone. Of course, that Messing's midtown fashion plate, whose wardrobe changes are numerous, dips into her retirement fund is the first clue that plot consistency doesn't register on The Wedding Date.

On the flight to London, Mulroney, whose qualifications appear to be a deep voice, good build and having starred in My Best Friend's Wedding, joins her. Soon they are locking looks and lips at bars, parties and sports games and everyone seems impressed. Her soft features and his growly whisper mesh, and their scenes work best.

But Mulroney is a prop for Messing, a slab of beef with not an original thought in his noggin. Men in this movie are either hopelessly horny or daft. They're on hand strictly to serve their main purpose: drop the pants and pay the bills. The Wedding Date isn't interested in what makes a man so it cannot make sense of what makes a man love a woman. Except for Mulroney's stud and Messing's airline manager, guys appear to have money with no source of income and dolls have one thing to offer in exchange. Mother warned about these women.

The vacuous script and wacky direction—scenes are chronically unfinished—render Messing something of a tart. Hiring a whore to impress others puts her dishonesty front and center, especially when her hustling character gets self-righteous about others' deceptions. That she falls for Mulroney is a small consolation and it's not terribly convincing. Other predatory females include a half-sister who's a dead ringer for Tonya Harding—and just as cuddly—a cruel mother and a tacky cousin. Together, their sisterhood is like a women's rugby team in heels and perfume: a bunch of bawdy broads as crude as they believe men are. The Brit bit seems thrown in for a splash of Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

When a wedding finally does roll around, after the obligatory twist, it falls flat, never having the decency to lift the veil on the sordid conspiracy. Messing's klutzy shtick does not carry a picture—especially one that's as much fun as a messy divorce. But the actress displays enough charm to suggest she could shine in a leading role that regards a woman (and the man she adores) as worthy of falling in love.

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DVD Notes
Hard to believe it's possible, but the deleted scenes for The Wedding Date—presented on the DVD with lush romanticism—are more crude than what's in the final print. A woman sitting near Messing's character, Kat, in first class on the way to London boasts about her indiscriminate sexual conquests, and there are more drinking game scenes, complete with vomiting and a peek up Messing's skirt. Messing's audio commentary contains long, silent patches. On the upside, Messing is afforded a short solo piece in which she comes off a lot better than her screen persona. With a laugh like hers, a sharp director and a good script, she could be smashing.

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