WEDDING DATE - HD DVD review

The Wedding Date is a horribly plain romantic comedy that excels in absolutely nothing.

DeanWink

Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney star in the 2005 romantic comedy "The Wedding Date." Messing is best known for her role as Grace Adler on the television series "Will & Grace" and Dermot Mulroney has had a supporting role in numerous films, including "Young Guns," "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "About Schmidt." Neither actor can be confused as being a box office draw and with a sub-par story, overly cute moments and play-it-safe demeanor, "The Wedding Date" is a horribly plain romantic comedy that excels in absolutely nothing. With no star power and no redeeming qualities, it is surprising that the $15 million dollar picture grossed roughly $32 million in box office receipts.

Kat Ellis (Messing) is a jaded woman who must attend her sister's wedding and come face-to-face with her ex-fiancé. She still pines for the man who had dumped her and decides to hire a high priced escort to attempt to make her ex jealous and hopefully win him back or have him realize the folly of his dumping her. The escort, Nick (Dermot Mulroney), is a suave, good looking and intelligent man who knows what women want and has all of Kat's female friends from home swooning over him. She finds him attractive, but her strong feelings for her ex keep her blind to the fact that he has found an attraction with her as well. This weekend at home turns up a few stones involving Kat's ex and her sister, as well as a few other twists.

In "The Wedding Date," we are led to believe that Nick found something in the phone messages from Kat and after seven calls; he finally agreed to become a wedding date for the first time. We are then led to believe that Nick desires to be with Kat and tries hard to win her over as her escort. This whole concept of perfect man falls for a beautiful but flawed woman after he has escorted countless other women seems a bit too thin to be even remotely believable and with each pathetic mention of her ex, Jeffrey (Jeremy Sheffield), it becomes more and more unlikely that this short set of days would be enough to find the two helplessly and madly in love with each other.

The film walks the R-rating line and attempts to inject sexual situations and humor, but the resulting PG-13 rating only has these more adult moments feel silly and uninspiring. The PG-13 rating isn't a problem with romantic comedies, but the film spends a large portion of its comedy joking about sex and placing its characters into steamy situations. However, the rating gives the film an "all bark and no bite" feeling. It just makes "The Wedding Date" even duller. One of the characters in the film, TJ (Sarah Parish) is clearly the cigarette smoking, foul-mouthed, overly sexual friend that is a staple of many romantic comedies. With "The Wedding Date" ultimately lacking any sexual energy, her character is completely wasted.

There are so many better romantic comedies out there that this sub par offering is hard to recommend. Debra Messing is cute and she has a little spunk to her, but she cannot carry a film on her own small shoulders. Dermot Mulroney isn't a bad actor and he is just fine as the object of every woman's desire, but the film tries to hard to make Nick perfect and after a while, the dialogue and actions of the character just do not back up the hoopla associated with the character by every female in the picture. The estimated $15 million budget certainly wasn't spent on talent, but the film could have been better served with one of the leads being an A-List talent.

Video:
"The Wedding Date" isn't a particularly entertaining film and on HD-DVD, it isn't particularly lovely either. The film is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect presentation and mastered (in typical Universal style) with the VC-1 codec. On high definition disc, the film is marred with low levels of detail, film grain and plenty of halos due to edge enhancement. In the past few months, I've seen a growing number of releases that suffer from edge enhancement and I had hoped it would have been left behind as an artifact of the DVD days, but it is slowly returning and this is easily the worst title I've seen yet in this regard. Detail suffers partly from the thin layer of film grain that is present throughout the film, but also from the mastering or source materials themselves. The film never gets much better than a standard definition release. Coloring is good and the films palette is the only true redeemable quality for the entire release. Black levels are decent and although the film is poorly detailed and grainy, the source materials don't present too many other shortcomings.

Audio:
English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 is the soundtrack of choice for "The Wedding Date" and in recent months has been about the only choice available on Universal's HD-DVD titles. Without getting into a lot of detail, "The Wedding Date" is a technically fine title that presents clear and intelligible dialogue that is kept at a comfortable volume level throughout the film. Much of the film is contained within the front three channels, as the .1 LFE channel and rear surrounds are left out to pasture for most of the film. Romantic comedies are typically not sonically impressive and "The Wedding Date" is no exception to that rule. A few scenes featuring car engines, music or crowds did populate the rear speakers, but this below average film is kept to only being average because of thin sound design.

Extras:
The value added content contained on "The Wedding Date" is flavored towards it star, Debra Messing and ultimately about as entertaining as the film itself. The Feature Commentary with Debra Messing finds the actress laying out her feelings and experiences making the film. The track moves along slowly at times, as the actress falls into watching the film and not talking to her audience. With not being able to force myself into watching the film a complete second time, I admittedly did not listen to the whole track, but a few moments I did pay full attention to were either dry in nature or silent. Eight Deleted Scenes are thrown onto the platter and do not add anything of value to the picture. The final feature, A Date with Debra, spends more time with the actress. Messing seems like a nice enough young lady and this feature isn't bad, but I was left feeling unimpressed by the extras.

Closing Comments:
The good comes with the bad when it comes to reviewing movie titles and Universal has sent a rather large care package of releases. A few gems were part of the lot, including "The Big Lebowski," "Mystery Men" and "Being John Malkovich." A few stinkers were tossed in as well and "The Wedding Date" is easily the worst of the bunch. I somehow managed to finish watching the film, but I could not bring myself to watching it a second time for the sake of the commentary. This is a dull and uninspired picture and neither Debra Messing nor Dermot Mulroney can carry the lightweight plot on their shoulders. The HD-DVD release features a tragic looking set of visuals and a competent, yet uninspired soundtrack. The features are all about Debra Messing and I was not very impressed with them either. My experience with this film is now over and hopefully, not too many others will have to sit through this below average offering.

Ratings

Video
4
Audio
7
Extras
4
Film Value
2