After deciding to travel to England to attend her sister's wedding, Kat (Debra Messing, "Will & Grace") frantically hires a male escort, Nick (Dermot Mulroney), to help her look good in front of her family and her ex-fiancee. Uncomfortable with each other at first, Nick and Kat are thrust into one awkward social situation after another, sparking an attraction that goes directly against their business relationship.
"The Wedding Date" (IMDb listing) opens with The Corrs' wildly overexposed hit, "Breathless," initially signaling that the film will be a soft, undemanding experience. But "Date" becomes far worse. Surprisingly adapted from a novel, "Date" is saccharine, uninspired entertainment that eventually collapses into a flat-out mess.
Because the material was first presented in a relaxed literary format, screenwriter Dana Fox has a devil of a time wrestling the tale to the ground and forming something consistent out of the many plot threads that dangle during the course of the bloated story. "Date" appears to have been the unfortunate victim of a last minute editing hatchet job, for over the course of a measly 90 minutes, not one single backstory, motivation, or performance is seen to its natural conclusion. "Date" is a nonstop series of weird jumps in time and logic, using the stars of the film to keep attention off the fact that nothing in the movie makes a lick of sense. There's an uneasy tension between Kat and her family that is never properly explored, Nick and Kat's relationship pinballs between love and hate (never really settling on either one), not to mention that the two barely know each other before Nick's all gooey for this stranger he's paid to be with (shades of "Pretty Woman," and just as icky). There's also a horde of idiotic romantic comedy cliches that director Clare Kilner ("How to Deal") employs to stitch the mess together, including a deplorable British "Absolutely Fabulous" rip-off character who acts as Kat's "worldly" best friend. This material only serves to make the film even more of an endurance test with its lack of imagination and self-esteem.
"Date" doesn't take television actress Debra Messing far from the small screen, here handing her another safe, sitcom comedy role. Nevertheless, Messing isn't even up to challenging those minor requirements. She fusses about as Kat, wrinkling her nose and trying to make this material pop off the screen, but it looks like a lot of labor for little results. She isn't helped by the 180 pounds of driftwood also known as Dermont Mulroney, who doesn't hide his "I'd rather be doing an indie film" frown as he slugs his way through an embarrassing "dream guy" role, complete with gratuitous butt shot and ideal romantic philosophies. The leads stand and deliver, but I'm thinking the original screenplay once held the rounded characters they insist they're portraying.
Romantic comedy isn't the toughest genre to tackle (the wedding setting is even more of a gimme), which makes the disturbingly unlikable "Wedding Date" even more of a trainwreck. All it had to do was be sweet, be simple, and be gentle. Instead, the endless amount of bad filmmaking choices found here just makes you want to exit the theater screaming.
Filmfodder Grade: D-