Despite admittedly becoming softer on romantic comedies (they previously ranked pretty low on my list of genres) since becoming engaged myself, I still often have a difficult time accepting some of their frequent shortcomings. However, I actually looked forward to sitting down to watch "The Wedding Date", as I consider myself at least somewhat a fan of Debra Messing. Throughout her television career and minor roles in films, I've admired Messing's ability to play comedy - even slapstick - with very good timing and delivery.
"The Wedding Date", however, may not have exactly been the movie that Messing needed to break out from TV and minor film roles into a leading actress. Messing stars in the picture as Kat Ellis (Debra Messing), a woman living in New York City who, by all appearances, is successful. Yet, for whatever reason, she can't find herself a date to her sister's wedding in England. So she hires a male escort named Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney) to take her to the wedding, posing as her boyfriend so that her family will think that she's finally gotten herself into a steady relationship.
The premise is already a tad shaky, but we move forward: Kat has further issues - her ex-fiance is the best man in the wedding, and her sister (Amy Adams) and her mother (Holland Taylor) aren't exactly the easiest people for her to get along with. And, we skip to the obvious - it isn't long before Kat and Nick go from being uneasy around each other to starting to have feelings for him.
"Wedding Date" moves along swiftly enough, but not speedily enough to be able to ignore some of its problems. Firstly, Messing seems oddly subdued throughout much of the picture, which does not fit her well. Although I've seen her carry moments of drama before, she doesn't seem up to it here. She's matched by Mulroney, who offers a performance that seems disinterested. The two don't have much chemistry with each other, making their sudden attraction to each other seem rather random. The odd thing is that, when conflict is actually introduced into the relationship, I was more interested, as Messing and Mulroney are more interesting and lively here when they're not getting along. Unfortunately, about 5 minutes of screen time later, they're back to falling for each other.
The movie is further hurt by neither really deciding whether it wants to concentrate on being a comedy or a drama, and never really goes full-steam towards either one - there's some minor laughs scattered about and a couple of moments of drama that are not as effective as they should be, but the movie is never as funny or successfully dramatic as it wants to be. The movie throws a bunch of supporting characters into the mix (as well as some pretty unrealistic plot twists/points at times), but their characters end up seeming like filler.
"The Wedding Date" isn't a total loss, but it could have been much snappier. The picture has its moments and might serve as an okay date night rental if other choices are unavailable.
VIDEO: "The Wedding Date" is presented by Universal in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is not among the studio's finest recent efforts, as the image remains a touch soft throughout the proceedings. The overall impression goes down a little further, thanks to some noticable edge enhancement, light shimmering and a couple of traces of pixelation. Colors seemed alright for many scenes, although sometimes they could seem a bit smeary. Overall, this is just a very average presentation.
SOUND: "The Wedding Date" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This is purely a "comedy" mix, with the majority of the audio coming from the front speakers, with the surrounds offering only slight environmental sounds and a couple of other touches.
EXTRAS: Actress Debra Messing offers an audio commentary, where she also seems similarly low-key, going fairly large chunks of time without saying much. She does provide some amusing tidbits here, chatting about some of the stories behind shooting certain scenes in the picture. This is an okay track - just uneven - and maybe it would have been improved had Messing been paired up with someone else.
Also offered here are a short interview with Messing and a nearly 10-minute reel of deleted scenes.
Final Thoughts: I was rather disappointed in "The Wedding Date", which didn't showcase Messing's talents very well, and mainly operated on cliches. There's some nice moments throughout, but they were a bit too few-and-far-between for me. The DVD edition provides okay image and sound quality, along with a few supplements.
The Film C