Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Wedding Date

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If Debra Messing's old Ned And Stacey co-star Thomas Haden Church hadn't already been so perfect for the role, her Wedding Date love interest Dermot Mulroney would have been an ideal choice for the part of Paul Giamatti's coarse best friend in Sideways. He's got the requisite oily, second-hand charm, caveman good looks, and laconic slacker cadences of a low-rent Casanova, and in the C-grade romantic comedy The Wedding Date, his B-level charisma causes him to tower over his surroundings like Gulliver among the Lilliputians. A cookie-cutter comedy that crossbreeds Pretty Woman with every lucrative romance that has Wedding in its title, the film is populated by characters so miniscule in spirit, morality, and intellect that Mulroney's smooth-talking, Ivy League-educated gigolo emerges as not only a romantic guru and intellectual genius, but also a paragon of virtue and decency.

In a plot that layers contrivance upon contrivance, Messing stars as a neurotic single woman who hires silky escort Mulroney to pose as her boyfriend at her sister's wedding. At first, Messing merely aspires to make an ex-beau—the groom's best friend and best man—jealous, but in a shocking, never-before-seen twist, Messing and Mulroney begin to develop genuine feelings for each other.

Though The Wedding Date was ostensibly designed as a vehicle for hugely popular TV actress Messing, she's thwarted by grating one-liners with no laugh track, plus shots so washed-out and murky that they make the lighting on Will & Grace look like something out of the wildest dreams of Vittorio Storaro. Mulroney, on the other hand, is sexualized as aggressively as Ludivine Sagnier in Swimming Pool. If The Wedding Date is progressive in any respect, it's in its leering treatment of Mulroney as eye candy, a muscled stud who's ogled by every woman in his path. The lucky Mulroney gets to play the kind of sensitive hunk that women want and men want to be, but he's the only one who can be heard over the tired wheezing of the romantic-comedy machinery.