Weddings--they're always fun. The tension the drunkenness the cold feet the wacky family dynamics. Good times. For single gal Kat Ellis (Debra Messing) going to her sister's wedding in merry ole England also means hiring one of New York's premier male escorts Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney) to pose as her new boyfriend. Kat's primarily goal is to make her ex-fiancé Jeffrey (Jeremy Sheffield) who dumped her two years ago jealous. Yes her solution crosses a few morally dubious lines plus costs her a tidy $6 000 which she had to drain from her 401K. But no matter. The insightful and charismatic Nick is a showstopper "the Yoda of escorts " convincing everyone that he and Kat are madly in love including Kat. She's soon feeling things she's never before felt. Well duh. He's like the perfect guy--that's his job. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure how this is going to turn out.
Will & Grace's Debra Messing is quite appealing in her first feature starring role but she really isn't straying too far from her dizzy Emmy-winning alter TV ego. Kat is a glorified Grace: smart attractive but insecure a little klutzy and certainly not afraid to be seen with smudged mascara and bad hair. The coiffed and well-manicured Mulroney on the other hand gets to be a smooth-talkin' hunk through the whole film. After playing a mullet-haired idiot in About Schmidt it must have been refreshing for Mulroney. Kat's no-nonsense mother played by the always-good character actress Holland Taylor and her self-absorbed sister Amy played by Catch Me If You Can's Amy Adams do their best not to fall into the "dysfunctional family" clichés. But it's the Brits in the cast--including Jack Davenport (The Talented Mr. Ripley) as Amy's earnest husband-to-be Edward Sheffield as Ed's best mate the aforementioned cad Jeffery and Sarah Parish as Kat and Amy's madcap cousin T.J.--that add the right amount of Four Weddings and a Funeral joie de vivre.
The Wedding Date is formulaic and predictable but here's what it does right: From the start director Clare Kilner (How To Deal) doesn't bog the film down with a lot of back story i.e. superfluous scenes of Kat depressed talking to her friends about hiring an escort calling the escort etc. Instead as she's nervously rushing around getting ready to fly to London we see the progression: photos of Kat and the ex lying around an article from a magazine about Nick on the bed and most importantly Nick's voice on an answering machine assuring her it'll all be OK. Kilner wisely chooses to concentrate on the wedding which has all the romanticism and comic elements built right in. Pumped up by engaging performances you tend to forgive all the contrivances and manipulations because darn it you're just having a pleasant time.