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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

((Photo by Eugene Adabari, 2005 Universal Studios, all rights reserved)

photo caption:
MORE THAN SHE BARGAINED FOR: Kat Ellis (Debra Messing, left) discovers just how accomplished her date, escort-for-hire Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney), is at his job. end caption.

Old Maid Hires Male Escort as "The Wedding Date"

Review by Kam Williams

Kat Ellis (Debra Messing) is a British expatriate living in New York City who is about to return to London to participate in the marriage of her younger sister, Amy (Amy Adams). She dreads attending the wedding because the best man is her former fiancé, Jeffrey (Jeremy Sheffield), a cad who had callously broken her heart several years earlier.

As a consequence, Kat suffers from low self-esteem and can't bear the idea of showing up at the gathering without a handsome escort. So, she hires a male escort to masquerade as her devoted and doting boyfriend.

After scouring the personal ads, she finds an agency that will supply Mr. Right to accompany her to England. Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney), is not only handsome and gracious, but an intellectual with a degree in Comparative Literature from Brown University. Kat wants her family, friends and former beau to be impressed by her escort.

If this set-up sounds familiar, think of Pretty Woman (1990), with the genders reversed. Instead of a prosperous businessman paying an attractive call girl for a week of her company, The Wedding Date revolves around a successful single woman who hires a toy-boy.

It makes sense to pilfer Pretty Woman's premise, since that picture landed Julia Roberts an Academy Award nomination and grossed half a billion dollars at the box office, more than any romantic comedy in Hollywood history. However, all similarities between the two films begin and end with the reversed plotline.

Clare Kilner, director of the film, does not bring out the humor and chemistry in the relationship between the protagonists, which is essential for a romantic comedy. Debra Messing (of NBC-TV's Will and Grace), fails to convey the desperation Kat's character calls for, and Dermot Mulroney is equally unconvincing as a gigolo with an Ivy League pedigree.

The script never explores why Kat, an intelligent, attractive woman, can't get a date, nor does it explain why Nick chooses to be an escort for hire. The film unfolds as a dysfunctional family affair with another skeleton poised to pop out of the closet every few minutes. For some reason, it seems that everybody has a secret to reveal.

Among the confessions which threaten to derail the impending wedding, is Jeffrey's admission to Kat that he'd broken off their engagement to enjoy a two-year affair with her sister. Kat then confronts the bride, who in turn threatens to inform the groom of her ongoing indiscretion with his best friend.

People this self-destructive are more pathetic than funny, and the supporting characters don't save the film from disaster. In this age of female empowerment, does any woman fantasize about being saved Cinderella-style by a prostitute Prince Charming?

Poor (0 stars). Rating: PG-13 for nudity, sexual situations, and dialogue. Running time: 90 minutes. Studio: Universal Pictures.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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