Hitch & The Wedding Date

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


            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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