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Wedding Date, The Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 December 2007

Image Your sister is getting married in another country. Your family is nutty. The best man is your ex-fiancée. Throw in a hired male gigolo as your wedding date, and you have the recipe for a quirky, yet rather enjoyable romantic comedy film.

Kat Ellis (Debra Messing) lives her life alone in New York City. But when her estranged, half sister, Amy (Amy Adams) announces she is getting married in England, she is called upon to be the maid of honor. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But wait. What if the best man at your sister's wedding is your ex-fiancée, whom you are still smitten over? What to do? Well, how about hire a male hooker to be your wedding date?

Dermot Mulroney plays Nick Mercer, a $6,000 male gigolo who Kat hires to make her ex-fiancée, Jeffrey, outrageously jealous. Little does Kat know, Jeffrey has no interest in resurrecting their "dumped at the alter" relationship. Instead he has a little surprise for Kat and her entire family.

As expected, the relationship between Kat and Nick blossoms. But for the most part, they spend the film trying to convince her unbalanced family that they really are a couple, and attempting to drive Jeffrey insane. T.J. (Sarah Parish), the whacky cousin who loves to party, brings much of the comedy to this film. All the characters in this film are a bit whiny, but somehow not that irritating.
This film is by no means politically correct. In fact, I am sure there are bunch of groups out there that would watch this movie in utter disgust. "Why does society always pressure a woman into needing a man in her life?" I think you get the point. However, if taken for what it is, this movie has a good, light-hearted nature. Debra Messing, proving her talents as Grace on "Will & Grace", brings life to all of her scenes. Sure, it has about every cliché possible stripped right out of "Pretty Woman" and "My Best Friend's Wedding", but there is something charming in the relationship between each of the characters. All in all, I believe that director Clare Kilner ("How To Deal") did a decent job of visualizing and filming a story that is plagued by hackneyed plots and dialogues.

The video quality however, is not so lucky as to be saved from a bad HD transfer. The opening credit sequence is nearly atrocious. The flying sequence through the high-rise buildings downtown is jittery to say the least. This problem does not exist on the DVD or HD digital cable. So the logical conclusion is that something went wrong in the transfer process. The same sequence is also very grainy, causing the blue sky to look extremely dirty. Grain plagues later scenes in the film as well.

Moving on, the opening also contains several close-up, pan shots on the personal section of a newspaper. I was surprised to find an HD DVD transfer to have a lot of jaggies around the lettering. This also occurred on the opening cast and crew credits. It was definitely not my HDTV, as I have not had that problem with any other sources (other than low-res standard definition). I would almost venture to say that in my comparison of the HD DVD with a DVR'd HD digital cable version, the cable version was better looking, at least for the opening sequences.

Not all was lost. The film did have nice contrast giving a believable depth to the scenes. The black levels were not outstanding, but were much improved over the HD cable and DVD versions. Also, the amount of detail in the establishing shots was awe-inspiring. There are several landscape shots during the scenes that take place in the English countryside. Gorgeous and vibrant colors highlight the trees, lake, and ground. You can see individual blades of grass, leaves on trees, and so much more. The benefits of HD DVD truly shine in those sequences.

The audio quality was decent. Being a typical romantic comedy, it is mainly dialogue based, so I won't ding them for only including a Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack. However, the surround channels were lacking in ambience, making the soundtrack very 2-dimensional. Some of the dialogue was a bit bright, but not ear-piercing. Overall it is an acceptable soundtrack.

The best part of the soundtrack of this film is the music score and songs. Blake Neely, primarily a music composer for TV of late, has a fairly distinguished list of films in his repertoire for the 10 years or so that he has been working. Mainly credited as a conductor, Neely has worked on "Day After Tomorrow", "The Da Vinci Code", "King Kong (2005)", Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End" and many others. For a romantic comedy the recurring theme is a fairly catchy fanfare.

Fans of Michael Bublé will love the soundtrack. There are three songs featured in the film by the talented artist: "Sway", "Home", and "Save The Last Dance For Me". All three songs are fitting the story and have great emotional power in them. It was a great choice to include this artist in the film.

Special features on this HD DVD are scarce, and center solely on Debra Messing (which isn't a bad thing). The audio commentary is a bit odd in that the only participant is Debra Messing. Much to my surprise, she is quite insightful. However, there are some long lulls here and there with no commentary.

The deleted scenes don't bring anything insightful to the film, but were entertaining to watch. And finally, there is a 7-minute featurette called, "A Date With Debra". This segment gives us a bit more of Debra, but lacks any real interest.

"The Wedding Date" is full of inside jokes, "he-said, she-said" moments, and the ever so popular, "I can't believe she fell for that line" thoughts. Nonetheless, it is a cute film with levity and laughs that you are sure to enjoy with your significant other. And while not the pick of the litter in terms of picture quality, it is still better than watching the DVD.

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