A review of “The Wedding Date” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: PG-13 for naked backsides and adult situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

 

 

A sparkling romantic comedy should be just the ticket for the deadly doldrums between year-end and the Oscars.  Nicer still if the comedy in question is actually sparkling or romantic.

Debra Messing of TV’s “Will and Grace” fame tries her hand as a bigscreen leading lady with less than desirable results.  As Kat Ellis she’s the quintessential thirty-something singleton; jilted at the altar, currently (relentlessly?) manless, and forced to hire a male escort (read: hooker) to give good face to her situation as maid of honor at her sister’s London nuptials.

The “gentleman” is Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney), a suave ladies man with loads of experience and charm to spare.  No frills, no attachments, just the perfect eye-candy to flash in front of Kat’s friends and family.

Naturally the pair falls for each other quicker than you can say American Gigolo.  Relatively understandable in the case of the needy, neurotic Kat, who’s desperate to make her ex jealous but finds (surprise!) a good man inside Nick’s sartorially pleasing package.

Completely mystifying for Nick, a consummate professional cum armchair psychologist who “dates” for a living and is ostensibly accustomed to keeping his heart securely under wraps.

There’s an inherent sweetness to Wedding’s narrative, a Cinderella story that’s been plied repeatedly and never fails to please on at least some level. Unfortunately the customary wedding clichés are present and accounted for: the singly sassy profanity-spouting bridesmaid, 1-800-LOVE dialogue (“the hardest thing is loving someone and having the courage to let them love you back”) and of course the Big Secret (an ugly one at that) that may actually ruin sis’ wedding day.

All of the above wouldn’t be so bad sprinkled with some pixie dust or blessed with blistering chemistry.  But Messing plays it clumsily, transitioning from insecure wallflower to sexy siren with little warning or motivation.  Mulroney more or less maintains his dignity as the token man-whore but I suspect he’s in it for the dough.

Bottom line: flashes of engagement mired in starry-eyed pabulum with a bubble-gum score to match. Bring on the Oscars, and fast!