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Monday, May 05, 2008

Made of Honor

Patrick Dempsey really is Made of Honor. He’d have to be to agree to star in this retooled version of My Best Friend’s Wedding coming off his big hit from the holiday season, Enchanted. It’s not that this “new” movie, Made of Honor, is awful. It’s just that it is so conventional it makes my teeth hurt. Even the previews show enough of the plot leading up to the BIG climax that you’ll know exactly what is going to happen and how the movie will resolve itself even if you never go to see it. Such is life. I’m beginning to think that the guy who puts together trailers like these must be my first husband. He always was one to rush through things and spill the beans long before was necessary, but let’s not let that ruin Made of Honor for you entirely.

The truth is I know a dozen or more women who have said personally they would watch Patrick Dempsey if all he was doing was standing around reading the phone book. Well, it’s not quite that bad, but if you set your sights for much more than that you may be disappointed. First off, the basic premise is extremely flawed.

The movie begins by having us believe that this healthy, attractive woman, Hannah (Michelle
Monaghan; The Heartbreak Kid), has been just friends with the man the rest of the world calls “McDreamy” in another venue for more than ten years. Apparently Hannah is okay with Tom Bailey (Dempsey, of tv’s “Grey’s Anatomy”) dishing to her about his midnight romps with other women and watching from the sidelines as he dates half of New York’s female population but not her. Instead, they are ‘bestest best friends’ and she seems to have no interest in him romantically. As a matter of fact, she has no romantic or sexual playmates of her own, at least none that don’t require AA batteries. On the flip side, Tom doesn’t exactly set the bar high on whom he shares his bed with so it remains a mystery as to what has prompted him to draw the line at Hannah. Unsightly back hair? No. Multiple murder convictions? Nary a one. Possessed by demons? Nada. Neither is either one gay or suffering from chronic sexually-transmitted diseases or sexual dysfunction, so just what the heck is this ~ a science fiction fantasy or what? It makes no sense. Their friendship is as tough as a barnacle clinging to the hull of a boat, but the only place it seems to be going is to Central Park on Sundays.

Something’s got to give, right? And so it does when Hannah, an art museum procurements specialist, is sent off to Scotland for six weeks on a countrywide tour. Poor Tom is suddenly faced for the first time in a decade to face his sexless Sundays alone. Apparently absence does make the heart grow fonder because while Hannah is gone Tom comes to the obvious realization that Hannah is the woman for him and it is time to settle down. And…and…wait for it, wait for it… can you guess? Of course Hannah comes back from the British Isles with a fiancé in tow, a hot Scotsman named Colin McMurray (Kevin McKidd; The Last Legion).

Herewith begins the jokes, People. Tom is put in the odd position of being asked by Hannah to be her Maid of Honor at the wedding, leaving him to wince, stew and generally present the stiff upper
lip only a best friend would even though it is driving him crazy inside with every bachelorette party gift basket he zhushes and every insult he fields from one of the other bridesmaids in the wedding party, especially from Melissa (Busy Phillips; tv’s “ER”), a former conquest of his that he dumped years earlier and who has never quite forgiven or forgotten. If this isn’t enough, the more he tries to find fault with Colin the more perfect the guy turns out to be. Given a few more months of this and at the rate Colin is approaching perfection Tom would probably find out that he had solved global warming, world hunger, and cancer, and was paying for it all out of his own pocket.

Things go completely awry once the party moves on to Scotland and Hannah and Tom meet Colin’
s eccentric family and friends and then are introduced to the assorted peculiarities of a Scottish wedding celebration. One huge disappointment in this section of the film comes when Dempsey appears for the traditional Highland Games in a kilt loaned to him by the locals. Aye, tis a wee mini kilt to be sure, but, alas, nobody told McDreamy the proper way to wear a kilt, for when Tom competes in the log throw against Colin it is a terrible letdown to see a glimpse of the actor’s tighty McWhities popping out from beneath his tartan rather than the chicken McNuggets his female fan-base is hoping for.

Ultimately, it’s not going to come as any kind of shock to spill the beans with the news that true love will win out, and all will be right with the world eventually. Well, with the right two of this three-sided love affair anyhow. Sure, it’s as predictable as idiots driving out on Lake Champlain in the last
gasps of Spring when the ice is thinner than the crust on the inside of Martha Stewart’s freezer, but it is still so sweet it is hard to resist. Director Paul Weiland (Sixty Six) has a long history of focusing on various “Mr. Bean” series in England over the years, so he does know how to focus on a television model, and Made of Honor has a small screen feel to it, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Perhaps the film will even play better when it eventually comes to cable and dvd, on a television-sized scale where Dempsey’s gorgeous blue eyes aren’t so much of a distraction from the modest expectations of the script by first-timer Adam Sztykiel, and writing partners Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan (Surviving Christmas).

If you’ve never seen My Best Friend’s Wedding, 27 Dresses, The Wedding Planner, or just about any slapstick farce from the 1930s and ‘40s with one of those gosh darn spunky gals like Jean Arthur, Betty Grable, or Constance Bennett then here’s your chance to experience the story for the very first time. If not, at least you’ll have those McDimples to make it all worthwhile, and that’s worth a whole lot all by itself.

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