The main problem facing this adequate romantic comedy is that this ground has been covered before, and better. To say this has pretensions to be the Pretty Woman of the noughties is an understatement. Covering mostly the same issues, in the same way, with only the gender roles changed, The Wedding Date suffers by comparison.
I will never understand this idea that classic films with a male orientation must be remade with only the genders changed to appeal to a female audience. Maybe it’s because I’m male, but I don’t get it. Did young women really love Mona Lisa Smile that much? And how do they feel when they see Dead Poet’s Society? Perhaps some original storylines with strong female roles would make for more female enjoyment of the movies? That may be too much to ask…
The only aspect in which it comes out on top, is that of the moneyed ‘hirer’ lead role, in this case played by Debra Messing. Whilst she seems to know how to play insecure, ditsy women, having starred in ‘Will & Grace’ for so long as just that, she does bring a sense of uncertainty to her performance, which is not something that could be said of Richard Gere. He was laid back to the point of being asleep, whereas Messing is hyped up on caffeine, adrenaline and lust, and this at least gives this film some life.
Messing is very good in her role, although the choices offered her by the writer and director were fairly limited. Mulroney is also adequate, but not more than that – a shame from someone who I’ve liked in much of his previous work. He has disappeared off the radar a little in recent years, but his role here and in the upcoming Must Love Dogs – another romantic comedy, starring John Cusack and Diane Lane – will hopefully bring him back into the public eye. I have found him a reliable performer, and would look forward to seeing more of him.
The direction is less than ideal, with too long spent on some sections, and not enough time spent showing the changing of the protagonists’ minds – the jump from business transaction to romance occurs far too abruptly, and is hardly believable. This is another area in which Pretty Woman outstrips it – at least we got a sense that Julia Roberts and Richard Gere were developing something, rather than just falling for each other based on the little information and time our leads have in The Wedding Date.
The lack of any new material, combined with some annoying secondary characters, and the failure to utilise Jack Davenport or Holland Taylor to full effect, mean The Wedding Date struggles to be anything more than Pretty Woman Reloaded. Sadly, just like The Matrix Reloaded, the first was better.Rating: