“He’s not really family; he’s more like a hostage”
The filmmakers behind The Wedding Date do a very smart thing by throwing us into the action right from the start. I was anticipating a lengthy exposition period of Debra Messing’s Kat talking to a best friend about how she doesn’t want to go to her sister’s wedding alone, especially since the best man is her ex-fiance. As the two banter about the past and broken-hearts, the friend will suggest, “why don’t you get an escort to make him jealous?” Then of course giggling will ensue and I’ll want to blow my brains out. Thankfully, director Clare Kilner and writer Dana Fox refuse to cater to clichés by making us understand from the start why Kat is in the situation she is in. Instead, and maybe this is also how the Elizabeth Young book begins, their first shot is of Messing chaotically rushing to get ready and head to the airport with little time to spare, a plane ticket exchange with a courier to deliver to her already called and accepted escort. Five minutes in we see Kat and her hunky catalog-bought date Nick, (Dermot Mulroney), meeting for the first time on a plane. And so the tale commences.
Through the course of Kat’s sham being held as truth to her entire family, we eventually learn how her past led to this point. It’s not as though we are to just believe she can’t get over her last love, nor that she can’t get a date; this is a romantic comedy after all and you probably assume from the start that this “escort” will eventually be her “the one,” so she’ll have to open up to him at some point, in effect opening to us as well. So we learn about her breakup, how her sister is marrying his best friend, how she stalked Nick down specifically to be her date through a magazine article, etc. Their chance pairing isn’t necessarily as coincidental as you may think. He is the best at his job, so his incognito identity was sought after, despite a six grand price tag excluding all potential sexual additions to the weekend’s escapades. Nick becomes the talk of the wedding, the dream of all other women there, but it is Kat that soon learns what lies beneath his exterior. She discovers the man beneath the image that he is so guarded at shielding from his “clients” to the point where he’ll eat anchovies despite being allergic to them. It won’t be easy—there will be bumps in the journey—but the two discover how wonderful each really is.
The Wedding Date came out at the height of Messing’s television career and with good reason. She was bred to be this kind of role; it is definitely her niche in the industry. She is charming throughout, very beautiful, and in possession of great comedic timing. Playing off her ex, especially after finding out he may still be in love with her, (see the water bottle scene during a cricket match—oh yeah, the film takes place in England), you can’t help but laugh at her antics. However, she can also hold her own in serious moments, including heart to hearts with her stepdad and blow-up fights with Nick. Mulroney is also in his wheelhouse here, playing the good-looking man’s man. But there is more to him and, much to my surprise, he steps up to the occasion. With intelligent line deliveries when speaking psychologically and a scene with Messing outside her car that gets the blood boiling without ever kissing her, he helps make their partnership an effective duo.
My biggest surprise was the fact that Amy Adams plays the betrothed sister. Coming out the same year as her breakthrough role in Junebug, Adams is very much billed in the background. Today I might even say her and Messing’s casting would be reversed when considering how bright the star of Adams is in the industry at present. She is effective in a throwaway role as is Jack Davenport, playing her groom. Davenport has that way of being the somewhat dullard, unaware of what is going around him. He plays pretty much the same role in the Pirates movies. I did also enjoy Sarah Parish as friend TJ, the brash woman always looking to have fun, dancing like a lunatic as the wedding dance lessons being the odd girl out with no one to pair off with … until Woody comes along of course.
I truly enjoy Messing, even in work as obvious and generic as this. But then, isn’t that pretty much all she does? The Wedding Date is a very cute film and being only 80 minutes doesn’t hurt. There is no padding to make it longer and seem more important than it is. Everything that occurs is for a reason and, although the end result is pretty much known from the start, there are some twists and turns that I should have seen coming, but did not. You could do a lot worse in the date movie genre, so if you are confronted with the task to take this film on, just put a smile on your face and try to have some fun with it. It’ll make you laugh at least a few times.
The Wedding Date 5/10 | ★ ★
 Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney in “The Wedding Date” (2005) Copyright © Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
 Jack Davenport and Amy Adams in “The Wedding Date” (2005) Copyright © Universal Pictures. All Rights Reserved.