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The Wedding Date

The Wedding Date (2005) is a movie of utter inconsequence — a cinematic Listerine Strip that evaporates off the brain before you can press the "Eject" button on your DVD player. This loose adaptation of Elizabeth Young's British chick-lit novel Asking for Trouble is "loose" in pretty much every sense of the word. Its writing is loose. Its morals are loose. Its comic timing is very loose. And it's loose in the sense that it only adapts the barest bones of Young's original story. As in the book, a woman pays a high-class male prostitute to pretend to be her boyfriend at her little sister's wedding. Everything else — the title, the character names, even the heroine's nationality — has been discarded in favor of shoehorning "Will & Grace"'s Debra Messing into the title role and Dermot Mulroney into the male-escort role. Which is a shame, because if the blandly amusing Wedding Date does one thing really well, it reminds us that these two talented, ridiculously handsome actors have done far better work in similar venues. Mulroney, of course, played the groom in My Best Friend's Wedding, the modern-day perfection of this sort of neo-screwball. And while Mulroney's fine (if a little bored) as "the Yoda of escorts," the mind reels imagining what Rupert Everett could have done with this part half-a-decade ago. And Messing's no slouch with the right material; she's something of a low-rent Lucille Ball over on "Will & Grace," where she regularly cracks wise, takes pratfalls, and behaves badly in ways that are livelier (and bawdier) than pretty much anything in The Wedding Date. There are a few mild chuckles to be had here, if not any actual jokes: Messing is really good at sexy self-deprecation, the mostly British cast is amusing enough, and there's a subplot with an ex-boyfriend (Jeremy Sheffield) that packs a few dramatic surprises. But while watching a limo full of drunk thirtysomething women yelling "Wooo!," the overwhelming sense is that of a genre wheezing its last. The Wedding Date is the frayed end of the string of books and films that emerged from Four Weddings and a Funeral, Muriel's Wedding, and "Sex and the City." Those films and books felt fresh and exciting when they first arrived — thanks to their double-doses of real wit and, underneath, yearnings for love and meaning in an age of solipsism. The Wedding Date, on the other hand, feels like a romance novel with better shoes. Universal's DVD release features a solid anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in English and Spanish. Extras include a feature commentary with star Debra Messing, the featurette "A Date with Debra" (7 min.), and a deleted scenes reel. Keep-case.
M.E. Russell

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