Date falls into typical romance territory

A tired, predictable plot, saccharine-sweet characters and a mediocre cast make The Wedding Date a wholly unengaging film.

The film stars Debra Messing as single Kat Ellis, who has just been invited to her sister’s wedding in London. At the wedding, Kat must not only face her dysfunctional family, but also her ex-fiancé, Jeffery (Jeremy Sheffield). In an effort to make Jeffery jealous, Kat hires Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney), a male escort, to be her date for the weeklong, lavish event. She found Nick through an article in a women’s magazine that recommended his services. The “date” starts as a purely business transaction until one liquor-filled evening when Nick performs his true escort duties. Sparks fly between Kat and Nick, and the date goes from a hoax to reality.

The theme of the film is represented in a scene between Kat and Nick where she reads a statement from his magazine article. In the article, he states that “every woman can have the exact love life she wants.” Kat asked incrediously how this is possible and by the end of the film, Nick shows her how to be “unsingle” and “unmiserable.”

The film wants to be a hybrid of My Best Friend’s Wedding and Pretty Woman. However, it fails to capture the same charming quirkiness those films retain. The love story feels rushed and totally anticipated, which leads the characters to an inevitable, syrupy, sappy conclusion. Most of the laughs in the film are sexually derived, and little more than penis jokes. The Wedding Date follows the romantic comedy formula too closely and ends up feeling like a hodgepodge of old ideas.

The characters in the film are thin and underdeveloped. Kat is anxiety-ridden and uptight. At the start of the film, she is hopelessly in love with her ex-fiancé. Yet, one night in the sheets with a hot newcomer and her emotions totally switch. Escort Nick has a few moments of desirability, but for the most part just seems unemotional and uninterested. Kat alludes to her “crazy” family, but besides a few inappropriate comments, they seem loving and supportive.

Messing attempts to fill the red-haired, romantic comedy legacy of Julia Roberts, yet her role lacks any luster Roberts usually brings to the screen. Although Jennifer Aniston successfully made the leap from television to romantic-comedy films, Messing might be best on the small screen. Hunky Mulroney portrays a far-too-seductive escort and comes across as slimy as a used-car salesman. Mulroney also needs to take a cue from Roberts and learn how to play the “hooker with a heart of gold.” The supporting cast is unfocused and given brief screen time.

The music in the film matches the overall sappiness. In one scene, a drunken Kat and sister Amy dance out of a limo’s moon roof to Air Supply’s “I’m All Out of Love.” The hot PG-13 sex scene is set to the melody of the group Maroon 5.

The Wedding Date may provide a few laughs and an overall happy feeling, but fails to offer anything new or worthy of a few hours and six bucks.

Rating: D+
Comedy, PG-13, Running time: 90 min.