DVD Review HTF Review: The Wedding Date

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Jason Perez, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. Jason Perez

    Jason Perez Second Unit

    Jul 6, 2003
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    The Wedding Date

    Studio: Universal
    Year: 2005
    Rated: PG-13
    Running Time: 90 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Captions: English
    Subtitles: Spanish
    Audio: English – Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish – Dolby Digital 5.1

    Release Date:
    August 16th, 2005

    The Wedding Date, based on Elizabeth Young’s novel “Asking for Trouble”, and directed by Claire Kilner (How to Deal) is a tried-and-true “chick flick”, right down to the predictable plot that hinges on the development of a romance between two very different characters. In this particular case, the different people in question are a charming male gigolo and a lovely but neurotic young woman still reeling after being dumped by her former fiancé without any explanation or warning.

    At this point, you might be thinking, “You know Jason, RomComs are generally predictable, but they can still be fun and entertaining.” If so, I would say that while you are right, that is not the case with The Wedding Date, which is scuttled by a ridiculous screenplay, choppy editing, an implausible premise, and uninspired borrowing from previous entries in the genre. Needless to say, these deficiencies diffuse whatever chemistry stars Debra Messing and Dermott Mulroney manage to create, and also prevent the film from ever finding its footing.

    As far as the story is concerned, Ms. Messing (in her first starring role) portrays Kat Ellis, a woman preparing to fly from New York to England to attend her sister Amy’s (Amy Adams) wedding. Strangely, while weddings are usually a happy occasion for those involved, Kat is dreading the trip. The reason, we soon learn, is that Kat was jilted by her former fiancé Jeffrey (Jeremy Sheffield) a while back, and the pompous ass is the best man in the wedding she getting ready for.

    Understandably, this uncomfortable situation has stirred up strong emotions in Kat, including fear, anger, embarrassment, and revenge, which is manifested in her desire to make her old flame jealous enough to regret dumping her. So, how does Kat elect to act on these feelings? Well, for some reason the very attractive Kat has been unable to find a new man, so she devises a scheme to hire a handsome, charming escort named Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney) to accompany her to England. In doing so, she hopes to avoid being harassed by her pessimistic, domineering mother (Holland Taylor), make a good impression on the rest of the ladies, and get under her ex-lover’s skin!

    To me this plan spells desperation, and it seems like Kat is holding on to the foolish hope that Jeffrey, who she should be glad to be rid of, will become envious when he sees her with another man and want to rekindle their relationship. And thus, the stage is set for hilarity to ensue…okay it never really does, but this may leave you with some questions, such as: Is all of this nonsense worth Nick’s hefty fee of 6 large, plus more for sexual contact? Will Kat be able to manage the intricate web of deception she has chosen to spin before ensnaring herself in it? Will Kat reconcile with her family members? Will Nick somehow help Kat regain her self-esteem and fall in love with her in the process (like we don’t already know the answer)?

    Now if the film was funnier and more positive, or if these characters (with the possible exception of Kat) were people I could feel anything at all for, I might have wanted answers to these questions. As it was though, I couldn’t wait for the 90 minutes to be up (and it sure felt like more), so I would be free of its disagreeable and unscrupulous cast of liars! Surely, all films require some suspension of disbelief, but how could Claire Kilner have expected people to imagine that a woman as attractive and likeable as Kat could have no other option than retaining the services of an expensive man-whore to serve as a date for her sister’s big day, or that an audience would care about such a disingenuous group of people?

    While I am well aware of how love and failed relationships can mess with people’s heads, these things just did never seemed right to me, and unfortunately, they were not the first or last issues I had with the story. For example, despite having plenty of time during the long flight to England, Ms. Ellis never creates a proper cover story to fend off the inevitable battery of questions about Nick that she will be hit with from friends and family members, who have never seen or heard of him before. Instead, she elects to do what could have easily have been done comfortably and comprehensively over several hours in a few frantic moments before her sister’s rehearsal dinner! Since this is most unlikely to be the approach taken by someone wanting to make an impression on others by passing off a bogus relationship, it did not sit well with me.

    The biggest issue I had with The Wedding Date though, was how the script throws characters that clearly do not enjoy each other’s company together repeatedly, by having them take part in recreational activities, among other things. What the hell….I know the various subplots had to be moved forward, but there are simply too many liberties taken with logic and human nature in this film!!! Bottom line - I could see at least a remote possibility in the other things I took issue with actually happening, but to have this many people who cannot stand each other casually interacting makes no sense at all.

    Unfortunately, in addition to the problems already mentioned, Messing and Mulroney are not a great pairing, with the latter looking noticeably uncomfortable throughout the film (likely due to the material he had to work with). I hesitate to criticize either actor though, because their performances do exhibit a genuine effort. This is especially true of Debra Messing, who really hits her stride about halfway through, when Kat begins to regain her self-confidence. Sadly, the script undermines both leads’ efforts, and leaves them stranded by doing little to develop Kat or Nick beyond a superficial level, or with any consistency.

    On that note, aside from Kat, the characters in this film not only behave illogically, but are also not very likable people. Sure, Nick is charming enough, and he does try to help Kat deal with some of her issues, but he is not necessarily a decent, moral dude – remember he is being paid to do so. To be frank, Kat’s mother is also a horrible, witch of a woman with nothing nice to say about her daughter, and her sister Amy is every bit as contemptible. The same goes for the man that Kat so desperately wants to make jealous enough to want her back. Quite simply, the whole lot are bad apples, and since their interactions are mostly unpleasant, I am drawn back to a question I posed earlier: why in the world are these people who want to steer clear of each other hanging out together?

    As The Wedding Date is riddled with such illogic and inconsistencies, it becomes tough to guess how the characters will behave from one moment to the next, even though the ending is never a question. The film is similarly disjointed, as there are several sequences that do not flow smoothly into the succeeding scenes and some aspects of the plot that seem as though they are missing something. This may be a wild guess on my part, but it appears to me as though some plot elements were scratched from the lineup to achieve the standard 90-minute romantic comedy running time. Perhaps some of you will have inside information and be able to comment on this, either confirming or debunking my suspicions, but perhaps The Wedding Date would have been a better film were it more complete.

    Okay, I am done ranting! I’ll close by saying that if you can manage to get on board with The Wedding Date’s premise in spite of all the reasons I believe you shouldn’t (even a romantic comedy should make at least a little sense), than you might actually enjoy the film a little bit. Conversely, those who demand at least some logic or a good humored, warm-and-fuzzy plot from their romantic comedies might want to seek out something else, as these characters are really not that nice to one another.

    My advice – hold off on that RSVP, and make a date with a superior romantic comedy that you might have missed, like Runaway Bride, Pretty Woman, Nine Months, or Love Actually. You’ll be glad you did…while Debra Messing is peppy and likeable, there is little else worth watching in this poor imitation of some of the films I just mentioned.

    Despite being a new production, and being offered by Universal Home Video in anamorphically enhanced widescreen (1.85:1), The Wedding Date’s visuals are quite a disappointment! First of all, while detail and black level were respectable, bold primary colors have a tendency to appear over-saturated, with a good example of this being the red coats the airline employees are wearing in Chapter Two.

    The amount of edge enhancement visible proved to be a fairly substantial distraction as well, with its characteristic ringing at the edges of light/dark transitions. Unfortunately, the image is also quite noisy at times, a flaw that is most pronounced in large solid-colored areas or whites. The inferior overall image quality is not quite a deal-breaker, but for a recently recorded film, it is certainly not what I would have expected. Indeed, this wedding looks more like a courthouse quickie than a big, fancy affair, and is one of the poorer image transfers of the review discs I have received from Universal.

    Surprise – it is your garden-variety RomCom soundtrack, presented in both English and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround mixes (there is no French audio track or subtitles)! And with respect to quality, everything is pretty much in order here, with frequency response, imaging, and spaciousness being neither particularly stellar nor problematic.

    My biggest concern was that dialogue would be presented accurately, and fortunately it was – no hissing, distortion, or other anomalies to report, even at loud volumes. Thus, it never requires any extra effort to hear what the characters are saying. Moving along, as it typically the case with this type of film, the rears and sub are employed fairly infrequently, to embellish the odd effect or the score, so don’t expect too much from them.

    All in all, this reproduction of the soundtrack performs acceptably in all respects, and offers a solid presentation of The Wedding Date’s audio information, which is a lot more than I can say for the image transfer.


    Audio Commentary
    The commentary track for The Wedding Date features star Debra Messing, who turns out to be surprisingly dull to listen to. More precisely, most of her comments are fairly brief (there are many lengthy pauses), and she does not go into very much detail on any topics of real significance. Some of the few highlights included:

    --- A brief chat about how the results of the test screenings led to alterations to the film’s opening sequence.
    --- Several discussions about scenes and ideas dropped from the film (again brief).
    --- An account of the debates that occurred over the development of the relationship between Kat and Amy Ellis as the production progressed.
    --- Revelations about some of the acting choices that she made.

    A Date With Debra
    The nearly 8-minute “date” consists of excerpts from an interview with Debra Messing, which are commingled with scenes from the film. In these interview segments, Ms. Messing talks about the reasons she enjoyed the script, why artificial flowers were used in the film, and working with Dermot Mulroney. There is not a lot of detail involved, but fans of the film might want to give it a casual once-over.

    Deleted Scenes
    There are a total of 8 deleted scenes available, in non-anamorphic widescreen, which run for a total of 10 minutes. While a couple are mildly interesting, there is nothing mind-blowing, and they were likely trimmed for time, as the finished film runs for exactly 90 minutes. The scenes are entitled:

    --- Kat Meets Woman On Plane
    --- Kat Explains Pub Golf Drinking Game
    --- T.J. Wins Pub Golf & Kat Tries To Talk To Amy
    --- Mom Sees Nick Exit The Boat
    --- Breakfast With The Family & Kat Picks Up The Rings
    --- Dad Answers Nick’s Cell Phone
    --- Nick And Amy Talk Further
    --- Mom Reminisces Outside Hair Salon

    The theatrical trailer for The Wedding Date is included.

    Promotional Materials
    The disc kicks off with a promo for various Focus Features projects, some of them upcoming, and trailers for the DVD releases of The Interpreter and Cinderella Man.


    (on a five-point scale)
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    It almost goes without saying that most romantic comedies don’t exactly push the boundaries of filmmaking. Let’s face it, 99.99 percent of them end the same way, with the man and woman on the poster in each other’s arms - it is a certainty, just as sure as the sky is blue and water is wet. That being said, if the leads can generate solid chemistry and make us laugh, we’ll consider our ticket purchase money well spent. Okay, I shouldn’t speak for you, but even an action film fan/science fiction geek like me can find enjoyment in a “chick flick”, provided it is done well.

    Unfortunately, although Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney both do a decent job in The Wedding Date, their acting alone is not enough to make it an entertaining or worthwhile film. Quite simply, The Wedding Date borrows extensively from a variety of much more effective RomComs that have preceded it (like Pretty Woman, for one example), but fails to translate this borrowing into anything inspirational. As a result, you will likely not see anything in this motion picture that you have not already seen countless times before.

    Worse still, the whole premise of the movie is not all that believable, and the attempt to infuse the film with a slightly darker/more mean-spirited tone via the inclusion of some unresolved family issues simply does not work. As a disc, The Wedding Date navigates a similarly disappointing course, with lackluster image quality and a rather unappealing menu of extras.

    If you are bound and determined to see the newest romantic comedy on disc, then you may want to give it a rental, but I would argue strongly against a purchase because I really cannot see the average person spinning this motion picture more than once or twice.

    Stay tuned…
  2. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
    Likes Received:
    harsh! [​IMG]

    I surprisingly found it quite enjoyable.
    More in the vein of Four Weddings.

    Sound, more the music was fantastically presented.
    Runaway Bride should have run off without being seen IMO.
  3. Mike_Richardson

    Mike_Richardson Supporting Actor

    Sep 11, 2002
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    Even my fiancee didn't like it...which isn't a good sign!

    Good review... [​IMG]
  4. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    Maybe it only works for single people, grin.
  5. Bradley-E

    Bradley-E Screenwriter

    Nov 11, 2003
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    I netflixed this BEFORE reading reviews. The film clocks in at 88 minutes, but the story ends at 78 mins. The end credits are 10 minutes. That is sad that 10 minutes of the running time is closing credits. If I had seen this film in the Theatre I would have thought they dropped a reel or two. This film is an underdeveloped mess.
  6. Mathew B

    Mathew B Stunt Coordinator

    May 28, 2005
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    Almost makes 'Walking Tall' (with 12 minutes worth) seem bareable.
  7. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

    Sep 15, 2002
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    I loved Walking Tall lol
  8. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Jul 6, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Steve Tannehill
    Well, I finally saw this tonight, and Jason has it pretty much pegged. I will say that it is good to see Jack "Coupling" Davenport getting work, and that Dermott Mulroney has a nice butt. :b But besides the superficial, the screenplay really missed the mark.

    I think I am going to cleanse the palate and take Jason's suggestion to watch Love Actually in DVHS DTheater. The 1080i presentation is lovely, actually. Of course, this is also available on DVD, and I've even it seen in an affordable twin-pack with About a Boy if you are really into Hugh Grant movies.

    Tell ya what... I have a spare copy of The Wedding Date along with a large T-shirt to Seed of Chucky (talk about a diverse set of weddings!) Take a few moments to tell us about your best or worst wedding date in this thread, and the best story will win the DVD and the T-shirt! Good luck!

    - Steve
  9. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

    Feb 14, 2002
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    I quite enjoyed this one. It felt TOO trimmed in spots, and I would welcome a longer cut, but I loved it all the same. It goes next to "Pretty Woman" on my shelf [​IMG]

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