|There are two forces at work inside the story of The Wedding Date. One is the romance. The other is the comedy. Together, these two elements should produce something that is usually known as a "romantic comedy." These films can run the gamut from lightly entertaining to heartwarmingly endearing and are usually successful in both departments of romance and comedy to varying degrees. But The Wedding Date holds the distinction of finding success in only one of these vital departments. Whereas the on-screen chemistry between Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney is believable and smartly portrayed, the same cannot be said for their comedic interludes.|
The potential for comedy in a film where the main story concerns a woman who hires a male escort as her date to a wedding would seem ripe with the potential for comedy. Currently part of a major television sitcom that has been well past its due date for more than one season, there is good news on Debra Messing's career horizon as she jumps into her first leading feature film role with smooth ease. Although her pinched and neurotic character on "Will & Grace" might lead potential viewers to conclude otherwise, her honest portrayal of "Kate Ellis," a woman who was recently dumped at the marriage altar, is genuine and natural. Her romantic interaction with costar Dermot Mulroney adds credibility to her performance skills as the two find natural chemistry with one another as the story progresses.
If the film needed nothing more to succeed than their believable relationship, this movie would easily earn a healthy box office. Even the romances hovering around the subplot of this movie are well spun and benefit from smart casting. Amy Adams, playing stepsister, "Amy Ellis," and her on screen fiancé, "Edward," played by Jack Davenport, fire up a nicely tangled romance as do the eloquent duo of Peter Egan and Holland Taylor, who play the Ellis parents. Each of the relationships examined and pulled apart over the course of the film reside in a simple yet effective plot that reflects well on first-time screenwriter Dana Fox. But not everything in the film is presented with such easy grace.
It is possible that the casting choices for Date led to the plethora of believable romances, but that rather important element of "comedy" in the whole romantic comedy scheme of things seems to have been misplaced. On most fronts, this film attempts to present itself as a lightly funny romantic romp where the sight gags constitute a large portion of the jokes presented to the audience. A good example of a film that takes the idea of physical comedy head on and comes out in spades is the first "Bridget Jones" film. Whenever Renée Zellweger tripped down a flight of stairs or fell over a piece of furniture, the movie turned hilarious. The jokes in The Wedding Date on the other hand just don't come off with nearly as much intensity.
And there are some rather intense and emotional scenes in Date and the story could have benefited from a few more well played jokes. And the frequency of the comedic moments could have been intensified much more as well. Or perhaps there were scenes where something funny was supposed to happen, but the jokes just didn't work so it seemed as though there were fewer moments of innocent slapstick. Sometimes a character will trip or fall (usually while in a drunken state) and their fall just doesn't. This happens with more than one character in more than once scene; it's not just one actor who seems to have missed the memo on the necessity of comedy in the film.
It's accurate to say that The Wedding Date is a romantic comedy with all of the romance and none of the comedy. The casting was so believably accomplished that who knows what this film might have looked like if the comedy had just been able to hit the target. Even if the jokes had come near to the mark, the audience might have received a few true laugh-out-loud moments. And that's what a romantic comedy needs. Although the romance comes first in the name, if the comedy doesn't work, you only have half a film. Since the movie was based on a popular novel, it's possible that the transfer of jokes from page to screen lost a vital energy in the translation though it's also feasible that the cast just doesn't have the knack for comedy.
And while it's tempting just to blame it all on the actors as they seemed unable to pull that part of the script out of the fire, they might have had more success if the jokes hadn't been in the fire to begin with. This movie is a common example of modern romantic comedies that just don't seem to fire on all cylinders. Some of the elements are there (such as the aforementioned romance), but with such a major and important element such as The Funny missing from the final product, the film suffers greatly.
And with intelligent filmmaking regarding the cinematography, editing, and score of the movie (composer Blake Neely does a crack job with the music), it seems a shame that that one element should compromise the interest factor of the film so greatly. Far from being a mediocre movie overall, The Wedding Date instead suffers from the collapse of only one element, but a major element nonetheless, that makes it a miss with overall audiences but allows it to remain a worthwhile experience for fans of romance.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.