Reviewed by Daniel Garrett
The Wedding Date
Starring: Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney
Director: Clare Kilner
Dermot Mulroney is probably the best thing about The Wedding Date, as others have pointed out. He is handsome and talented enough to be remarkable and known, but apparently not enough of either to become a great movie star: he is a believable actor, a believable man, not someone who lives on a pedestal.
In The Wedding Date, an often pleasant, though pandering, and mostly pedestrian movie, Mulroney is a male escort hired by a jilted lover played Debra Messing (she seems to be an airline employee); she hires him to attend her sister’s wedding in England with her. She doesn’t want to be humiliated by her single state before her family or her ex-lover. That suggests insecurity worth exploring, possibly in psychoanalysis.
Debra Messing looks like someone who is attractively grounded, but her character is unattractively neurotic. Often it has been the woman who is a prostitute in film: the sexual woman, the available woman; but here, and recently, it is the man in film, especially the young male, who is for rent. It is interesting that Mulroney’s character, while not old, is no longer very young, but we don’t know how aging affects or might affect his appeal or success. He is intelligent and suave in bearing and seems often attentive and honest. Mulroney has a puppyish quality—even his intelligence is a bit dogged, and he seems like someone who may have achieved comfort with effort. Our times are permissive and that’s partly why his character’s profession is not off-putting in a mainstream movie. Our understanding about the rules of the social game—how money is the final standard for everything, which means that almost everyone is one kind of whore or another—may be why we are not more disapproving.
Apart from Messing’s character saying that she finds having sex for money repugnant, a very strong statement (it seems like a writer’s nervous insertion), The Wedding Date does not address any of these speculations. There is humor in how easily others accept the lead characters pretense of being a couple, in how easily people are fooled. However, as the film’s wedding festivities occur, various painful and sordid secrets are revealed regarding Messing’s character’s family and friends, and the fraudulently attached couple become genuinely involved with each other. That they have sex is a matter of a moment’s madness and of partially acknowledged tender feelings and involves, on one level or another, an acceptance of the Mulroney character’s profession. The film, directed by Claire Kilner, does not end in a way that is surprising, and while I cannot claim to have been particularly satisfied by the movie, I was not greatly bored or disappointed.
About the Reviewer: Daniel Garrett, born in Louisiana and a longtime resident of New York, is a graduate of the New School for Social Research. His work has appeared in The African, AIM/America’s Intercultural Magazine, AllAboutJazz.com, American Book Review, Art & Antiques, The Audubon Activist, Black American Literature Forum, Changing Men, The City Sun, Frictionmagazine.com, The Humanist, Hyphen, Identity Theory.com, Illuminations, Muse-Apprentice-Guild.com, Option, PopMatters.com, Red River Review, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, TechnologyReports.net, 24FramesPerSecond.com, UnlikelyStories.org, and World Literature Today.