“Too many women throw themselves into romance because they’re afraid of being single, then start making compromises and losing their identity. I won’t do that.” - Julie Delpy
We seem to watch an awful lot of chick flick rom coms lately. But on reflection, maybe not, it just seems that way… The genre is a popular one so moviemakers churn these types of films out with great regularity. Once again, the movie we watched at the weekend was retrieved from the specials bin and the only reason we watched it was that we wanted nothing heavyweight, depressing, or anything that would get us thinking about deep and meaningful stuff – so fluff and nonsense it was to be. It was the 2005 Clare Kilner film, “The Wedding Date” starring Dermot Mulroney, Debra Messing, Jeremy Sheffield, Amy Adams, Jack Davenport. It was based on the novel “Asking for Trouble” by Elizabeth Young and the screenplay was by Dana Fox.
Kat (Debra Messing) is a successful airline executive living in the USA, while most of her family is in the UK. She has been through a traumatic relationship break-up with ex of seven years, Jeffrey (Jeremy Sheffield), who is still living in the UK. Her half-sister will have her wedding in London and the best man is Jeffrey. Kat who still loves Jeffrey and who is still single, whishes to go to the wedding accompanied by a man whom she can pass off as her new boyfriend. Kat spends $6,000 plus business class tickets for Nick (Dermot Mulroney) a professional escort, to accompany her to London pretending to be her boyfriend. Kat’s sister, Amy (Amy Adams) has planned a wedding extravaganza to last four days, complete with picnics, cricket, parties, hens’ and stag nights, and more. However, there are some dark secrets that will be revealed and most of the characters will have to make choices that will affect their whole lives.
Critics crucified this movie, but it resonated well with much of the public. At a cost of $15 million the film grossed $47 million worldwide, $11 million of that made on the opening weekend in the USA. The film is formulaic, predictable and sprinkled with Hollywood glitz – the UK locations being the gimmick (and this works well). The cast is more or less likeable and they do a more or less good job with the material they have been given. Some of the minor supporting cast characters were the most enjoyable for us, and we actually disliked the leads (Mulroney and Messing), which didn’t help.
I wonder if these types of movies nowadays fulfill some sort of grown-up penchant with romantic fairy tales of old – wish fulfillment “Cinderella” stories that extend our childhood fantasies. Needless to say that these grown-up fairy tales are peppered with soft porn, the sex spicing the story in an obvious way, whereas in the traditional fairy tale the eroticism was symbolic or understated. The same could be said of the literary chick lit genre or the “Hills of Doom” type of romance novels. They work and they are popular because they are written to a strict formula, they have stock characters and plot lines so that their fans are not greatly surprised or disappointed when they read them.
This film is average as far the genre goes. It is not original nor is it ground-shaking moviemaking at its best. However, it has no pretence about itself. The tag-line for the movie “Love Doesn’t Come Cheap” summarises the aspirations of the movie quite well. While it is not pure bathos, it lacks the sparkle and charm of the 1990 “Pretty Woman” by Garry Marshall, a similar plot with the genders reversed. We watched “The Wedding Date”, it didn’t tax our minds greatly, we liked the scenery, we smiled once or twice, and that was it. The film will be promptly forgotten… If you have 90 minutes up your sleeve and it’s on, watch it and don’t have great expectations – it’s fluff. Otherwise don’t go out of your way to seek it out.