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Universal Studios Home Video presents
"My sister's getting married and the best man is my ex."
DVD ReviewI know my share of single women, and the last thing any of them would want is to attend a relative's (or anyone's for that matter) wedding without a date. However, I can't say that I know that any of them have been so desperate as to hire a male escort to be that date. For those ladies who have, in fact, toyed with the idea of employing a "man of the night" to meet their parents and other family members they can see what the consequences could be, thanks to the 2004 film, The Wedding Date.
While the film was a dud, it did feature a rare starring role for Grace Adler herself (Will & Grace), Debra Messing. Before that show, she played alongside last year's career-revival-man, Thomas Haden Church, in the TV sit-com, Ned & Stacey. So, how would Messing fare on the big screen and in a project without an "&" in the title? Well, not so well, as The Wedding Date was a complete critical and box office bomb when it went wide in 2005.
The film opens with Kat Ellis (Messing) boarding a plane to London, where her sister is getting married. She is supposed to meet her date on the plane, a male escort named Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney) that she "ordered" for a rather expensive fee that doesn't include any overly intimate physical contact. When the pair arrive in London, Nick is instantly hounded by practically every woman he meets, all of them wanting to get to know him very well. Kat eventually gets in the act when she realizes that she has strong feelings for Nick as well, but his profession just might be too much for their potential relationship to overcome.
Unfortunately, there's a reason the film wasn't even a moderate success; it just isn't very good. There's a romantic comedy cliché around every corner, giving viewers the ability to predict each and every twist and turn way before they are revealed. Kat and Nick also spend far too much time beating around the bush, avoiding their feelings for each other when they seem most prevalent.
Messing is the film's saving grace (yes, pun intended), showing that she is fully capable of carrying a film as its star. Her character, Kat, is written as one of the more unrealistic female protagonists you're likely to see, but she does all she can to bring much of the same charm and wit that everyone knows and loves about her television character. With the right project, and, more importantly, the right script, Messing could easily enter the upper echelon of female actors very soon.
Mulroney basically plays the same character he took on in My Best Friend's Wedding, exuding the same machismo and GQ looks, almost to the minute detail of his appearance and mannerisms. Throughout the movie, he just can't help but come across as terribly fake. Granted, I'm not an expert on gigolos, but Mulroney's Nick Mercer just seems way too polished to make a living the way he does. Would it have killed the producer or director to take a different route and hire, maybe, a Steve Buscemi for this role? This would have changed the entire scope and outcome of The Wedding Date, and, after experiencing this turkey, such a drastic change could have only been an improvement.
Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D
Image Transfer Review: This recent theatrical release is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it's pretty ridiculous how bad things look, especially during the opening credit sequence. There's pixelation, grain, dirt, you name it, cluttering the screen during the intro, and edge enhancement is a bear throughout the presentation. The color scheme is well-rendered, though, with no bleeding or other discrepancies from image to image.
Image Transfer Grade: D+
Audio Transfer Review: The only audio selection is Dolby Digital 5.1, and it's pretty basic, yet effective, romantic comedy fare. Most of the sound stays up front, but much of the music makes its way to the rear speakers much of the time. The dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand, mixing in nicely with the rest of the track.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring My Summer of Love, Pride and Prejudice, The Constant Gardener, The Ice Harvest, Brokeback Mountain, The Interpreter, Cinderella Man
8 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Debra Messing
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: Aside from some previews for other Universal releases, there are only three extras, one of which is an audio commentary with Debra Messing. She is very funny, giddily recalling her experiences on the set, and she spends a lot of time praising Dermot Mulroney's acting skills.
There are also eight deleted scenes that run for just over 10 minutes, and are an interesting diversion.
A nearly eight-minute featurette called A Date with Debra is also included. This piece has Messing speaking very candidly about her experiences in making the film.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsThe lack of believability and super predictable plot were the main culprits in the DOA status of The Wedding Date when it hit multiplexes. Now, thanks to Universal Home Video's DVD release, more people have a chance to put their knowledge of romantic comedies to the test, as they should easily be able to telegraph these characters' every move. The video presentation is almost as disappointing as the film itself, but the audio is just fine and a couple of extras are on board that are worth a look.
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