The Wedding Date
January 28, 2006
The problem that faces a lot of TV actors is making the jump from the small screen to the big one. Quite often they are so closely identified with the show they’re on because you can see them on it all the time. In the case of Debra Messing, who is on the show Will and Grace, you can see her virtually every day thanks to syndication. Because an actor is so closely identified with a popular role it is hard for audiences to see them in another, different one. This may explain why we haven’t seen too many film roles from the cast of Will and Grace. In Messing’s case she’s done a few (namely, Along Came Polly and the underrated Mothman Prophecies) between seasons of her show, the latest being The Wedding Date (2005).
Kat Ellis (Messing) is off to England for her sister Amy’s (Adams) wedding. The problem is that the groom’s (Davenport) best man is Kat’s ex-fiancée, Jeffrey (Sheffield). So, she hires an escort, Nick Mercer (Mulroney), a good looking guy who is to make her ex jealous. Their relationship begins as strictly a business arrangement maintaining the ruse that they are a couple to her entire family. Of course, as they spend more time together an attraction between them develops.
Dermot Mulroney is like an under-appreciated Matt Dillon. He’s dabbled in many genres, done many films and fits well in this romantic comedy. He has aged well, playing the calm, straight man to Messing’s neurotic mess. Nick is a thoughtful guy (“You’re like the Yoda of escorts,” she tells him) and he watches what she does and thinks about what he’s going to say before he says something. Mulroney plays his role in a nicely understated way and with a wry sense of humour. He is an underrated actor who’s had the occasional high profile role but has never quite cracked the A-list.
Debra Messing has dialed down her performance for this movie and is not as shrill as her character on Will and Grace. She’s still plays a neurotic character (“If I feel like crap, I wanna look hot doing it,” she says at one point) but with more nuances. Messing strips down the layers of her Grace persona to reveal something that gets away from her TV show and even shows some dramatic chops when the story takes a turn for the serious.
The Wedding Date is really a hybrid of My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) in terms of plot with the aesthetic of Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) in terms of dialogue and character types. Like the latter film, The Wedding Date features some beautiful cinematography, by Oliver Curtis, that gives the same kind of glamourous glow to London as in that movie.
This movie was misunderstood, misinterpreted and misrepresented—just plain missed—by the critics and audiences. Why? The Wedding Date is a well-written and well-made movie but perhaps audiences wanted Messing to reprise her Grace character. In this day and age when outrageous, gross-out comedies like The Wedding Crashers (2005) are at the top of the box office, it is refreshing to see a movie like The Wedding Date that has its own ebb and flow, a laid-back vibe for a more mature audience. This movie was the victim of a misleading ad campaign and an indifferent movie-going public but is actually a surprisingly intelligent romantic comedy.
There are eight deleted scenes. One shows Kat’s apprehension en route to England as she talks to a woman who advocates hot sex. There is more footage with Kat at the golf-themed bachelorette party. They do flesh out more of the story and the interactions between characters. These scenes are nice to see but were rightly cut.
“A Date with Debra” is a Q&A session with Messing. She talks about what attracted her to the script—it was a fun premise with a dark edge to it. She offers some of her recollections of making the movie and how much she admires Mulroney. Messing points out that her sex scene with him has an innocence and a sensuality to it because it was directed by a woman.
Finally, there is an audio commentary by Debra Messing. She talks about the original opening shot that had her character crying but the scene looked too smoky and was scrapped. She talks a bit about working on a modest budget with very little time (pointing out scenes that they had little time to film) and the quirks and quarks of working with a British crew. She claims that the original script featured a much darker view of the relationship between Kat and her sister but it was thought to be “too confusing.” Messing often falls into the trap of spending too much time watching the movie and forgetting to comment on it or when she does it is only brief factoids and obvious observations.