The biggest response these two current movies could generate in an
audience was a yawn; but since “Hitch” has Will Smith and “The Wedding
Date” has Dermot Mulroney, both deserve at least a look.
If these romantic comedies were timed to hit theaters around
Valentine’s Day, they do the day a disservice.
Will Smith plays “Hitch,” the man, and he plays him well without
indulging in the theatrics or mugging that might have been a temptation
considering the vast lulls in the script. Hitch
is a highly paid consultant, a Date Doctor who tutors clients in the ways of
landing their dream mates. Will
Smith sets a welcome tone for the movie by playing the doc straight.
There is no hidden agenda with this consultant; he really wants to help
his clients, especially Albert (Kevin James), a fat fellow with a big heart who
trips over everything in his path. Every
character in this movie is nice, and that’s a twist in itself.
Albert adores Allegra (Amber Valletta) whose perfect exterior masks the
soul of a klutz. While coaching
Albert in the subtleties of winning his perfect soul mate, Hitch himself falls
for Sara (Eva Mendes), a spunky gossip columnist who proves a tough assignment
even for the master himself. Without
Will Smith and Eva Mendez, the movie would quickly deflate;
with them it’s possible to enjoy this bit of light foam while looking
forward to seeing them in a better story.
Another story altogether, “The Wedding Date” makes the fatal mistake
of insulting the audience. With one
exception, everyone in the cast indulges in infantile mugging, overplaying empty
parts until we ask ourselves the inevitable question:
how did anyone win a green light to make this glossy, colorful, fully
produced wreck of an inept script. Let’s
blame the director for the exaggerated acting styles; let’s blame the writers
for a weak, soggy script that is a one note plot strung out for a weak 90
minutes. The casting director gets
a black mark for asking Debra Messing to carry a big screen movie without the
charm that might intrigue us even for a minute.
But the same casting director gets a gold star for using Dermot Mulroney
who seems to know exactly how bad the movie is and responds with a charming,
controlled performance that makes him the focal point of the film, the only
credible person on screen.
If you can imagine that Kat (Debra Messing) has hired an escort, Nick (Dermot Mulroney) to escort her to her sister’s wedding so people will not pity her because the best man dumped her a while back, you have the whole thing. It is a measure of Mr. Mulroney’s talent that he manages to keep his dignity and holds our interest. The problem: this big cast plays a TV sitcom while Mulroney plays a big screen movie, and even he can’t save them from themselves, or from the limp script.
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