MADE OF HONOR (2008)
Starring Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monahan, Kevin McKidd, Kathleen Quinlan, Kadeem Hardison, Chris Messina, Richmond Arquette, Busy Philipps, Whitney Cummings, Emily Nelson, Kevin Sussman, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sydney Pollack.
Screenplay by Adam Sztykiel, Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont.
Directed by Paul Weiland.
Distributed by Columbia Pictures. 101 minutes. Rated PG-13.
In the late 80s/early 90s, Patrick Dempsey was the prince of nerd romance. He starred in a whole series of stupid comedies and dramas about a geeky young kid who was desperately in love with women who were probably a little too beautiful for him – such Bush-41-era hotties as Jennifer Connelly, Moira Kelly, Helen Slater, Shannon Tweed and Kelly Preston. He usually floundered and made a fool of himself while trying to wiggle and giggle his way into their heart.
However, when his short-lived career spurt dried up, Dempsey did an admirable job of reinventing himself – trying serious-and-interesting guest roles on TV series and smaller film roles, taking acting lessons, buying a gym membership, getting a nicer wardrobe and an expensive haircut.
This hard work all paid off a few years ago, when suddenly after over a decade basically out of public view, Dempsey reappeared as McDreamy, the handsome and sensitive doc in the smash TV series Grey’s Anatomy.
After all these years, Dempsey was back on the hot list, so it was only a matter of time before he returned to the movie screens. He started off very shrewdly, playing second banana to Amy Adams’ sweet and charming fairytale princess in Enchanted. The role was perfect for him because Adams character was the central focus of the film. With her bright-eyed enthusiasm and likability, his handsome blandness was not exactly noticeable. Don’t get me wrong, he’s pleasant enough, he just doesn’t seem to have much personality.
Now, he has finally gotten the opportunity to carry a film himself again – and Made of Honor places him squarely back where he started from all those years ago.
Oh, his character of Tom is supposed to be a gorgeous womanizer rather than a nerdy boy, but he’s still committing stupid pratfalls and pining after the girl he can’t get. In fact, several scenes in Made of Honor are directly reminiscent of Dempsey’s earlier work. The scene where he is so shocked by meeting the woman of his dream’s fiancée that he knocks over a waiter carrying a tray – twice – feels like leftover Loverboy. Or there is the scene where he is skulking through the hallways of a dank castle trying to quietly slip into his crush’s bedroom, which seems straight outta Some Girls.
Of course the 90s film that Made of Honor steals from the most blatantly had nothing to do with Patrick Dempsey, for this movie is essentially an inversion of the story of Julia Roberts’ My Best Friend’s Wedding, in which the main character realizes they are in love with their long-term platonic best friend and sets about sabotaging the nuptials and winning the heart of the friend all the while pretending to be part of the wedding party. The only real difference is they switched sexes – now the marrying friend is the woman and the saboteur is the man.
The problem is Patrick Dempsey is no Julia Roberts. (Not that that is always a bad thing…) He’s basically the straight man, but the movie is riding on his shoulders, and I’m not sure that he has the personality to pull it off.
A few months ago, his Grey’s co-star Katherine Heigl appeared in a very similarly haphazard wedding movie – 27 Dresses – and was able to carry the whole thing through sheer force of charisma. Comparatively, Dempsey seems like a bit of an empty suit.
Interestingly, Dempsey’s co-star here, Michelle Monaghan, does have the “it” factor that her better-known leading man lacks. Monaghan also upstaged Ben Stiller in yet another wedding movie, the execrable Farrelly Brothers remake of The Heartbreak Kid.
The movie is also given occasional shots of life when Tom’s father, played by director and sometime actor Sydney Pollack, shows up to give his son refreshingly earthy advice.
However, when the two of them are off-screen, Made of Honor really drags.
This may be partially because his best friends – who are supposed to be his confidants and partners in crime – act like no men I have (or possibly anyone has) met. I was shocked, SHOCKED, to see that two of the three screenwriters were men. Who do they think they’re kidding? No man talks like that. Amazingly, her friends are – if possible – even less likeable.
Or maybe the whole thing seems a chore because the dialogue regularly thuds awkwardly, and the situations are mostly purloined from more interesting movies.
What do you expect from a movie that thinks it is clever to confuse the term Maid in the title with Made? That is always a dead-giveaway of a lame movie, see also: Maid in Manhattan, Maid to Order.
The audience has pretty much tuned out by the time we make it to the Scotland wedding where Tom has to watch the woman he loves marry another man in a kilt – which is yet another situation purloined from a 90s rom-com, this time Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Then, for one last misstep, the screenplay ignores the most interesting and realistic aspect of its inspiration My Best Friend’s Wedding – the credible ending. I apologize if this is taken as a spoiler, but really how could such a predictable film be spoiled? Still, if you want to be surprised by Made to Honor, first of all good luck at that… and second of all, please skip the rest of the review. Okay, everyone who is afraid of possibly ruining the climax out now? Instead of having the protagonist’s plan crash and burn, it serves up a very standard and rather unbelievable “happy” ending in which the mismatched characters live happily ever after.
Of course, for some of us the happy ending was just the fact that the movie was indeed ending.
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 5, 2008.