[Screen It]

(2008) (Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan) (PG-13)

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Romantic Comedy: After realizing he actually loves his best friend, a serial lothario must come to grips with her asking him to be her maid of honor at her upcoming wedding.
Tom (PATRICK DEMPSEY) is a happy and rich bachelor who enjoys being single and the no-strings-attached sex that comes with that lifestyle. In fact, the inventor has been doing the lothario thing at least since college which is when he mistakenly met Hannah (MICHELLE MONAGHAN), who he believed was her roommate waiting to have sex with him. Tom and Hannah didn't sleep together, and despite their different lifestyles, became fast friends and have remained that way for the past ten years. In fact, they're so close that her mother, Joan (KATHLEEN QUINLAN), and his father, Thomas Sr. (SYDNEY POLLACK), are separately surprised the two have never become a couple.

That platonic relationship is rocked, however, when Hannah returns from a six-week working stint in Scotland with a new boyfriend, Colin (KEVIN McKIDD). Not only are they dating, but they're engaged to be married in just two weeks. And the timing couldn't be any worse as Tom was just about to tell her that he had finally realized he was in love with her.

To add insult to injury, she's asked him to be her maid of honor, much to the dismay of Melissa (BUSY PHILLIPPS) who had a brief fling with him in the past and has hated him ever since. Even so, she and fellow bridesmaids Stephanie (WHITNEY CUMMINGS) and Hilary (EMILY NELSON) want to make sure Hannah's day is special. Meanwhile, Tom's basketball buddies, Felix (KADEEM HARDISON), Dennis (CHRIS MESSINA) and Gary (RICHMOND ARQUETTE) see his wedding role as the best inside way to break up the pending nuptials so that he can have Hannah all for himself.

From that point on, Tom finds himself torn between helping his best friend and finding the best time to tell her how he actually feels about her.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Let's face it, traditional weddings are all about the ladies. Sure, there's usually a guy involved, but beyond the "to have and to hold" and "till death do us part" co-parts and getting to appear in most (but certainly not all) of the wedding photos, the day belongs to the bride. After all, how many bridal magazines are in existence compared to ones for the guys? Heck, as far as I know, the grooms don't even get an adjective for their efforts (Groomal anyone?).

The same holds true for those in the supporting roles (namely the bridesmaids and groomsmen), but it's here that the guys get off easy. Beyond hosting the bachelor party, picking up the tuxes and teasing the groom about his wild oats sowing days now being behind him, the best man is really just someone to stand at the front of the penguin suit formation flanking the poor sucker, uh, lucky guy, getting hitched.

On the other side, however, the bridesmaid (as the name suggests) is expected to work her buns off. There's the bridal shower, the gift registry and dealing with the packages at the ceremony and afterwards, the trying on of the dresses, and basically having to deal with a best friend who turns (for hours/days/weeks/months, depending on the person) into a raving Bridezilla.

But what if someone broke with tradition and stuck a guy into the role of the bridesmaid? We're not talking some effeminate, fashion designer type, but a man's man (okay, again, not that direction) who would find such duties quite foreign to his chromosomal make-up. And to throw another monkey wrench into the proceedings, let's make the guy a habitual lothario/playboy/rich inventor who just so happens to have finally realized he's in love with this platonic friend who's getting married to someone else.

That's the setup of "Made of Honor," a romantic comedy that might sound like some sort of military movie, but which touts to be coming from the other direction of most such films of the "chick flick" genre. With Patrick Dempsey as the poor sap, Michelle Monaghan as the bride-to-be, Kevin McKidd as the new guy in the picture, and a host of other performers playing parents or best friend characters, the stage would seem set for, well, a romantic comedy.

True to its form, the flick follows the standard conventions, but most, if not all of it feels contrived and completely manufactured, without a genuine bone in its body. Granted the same can be said for many a film that oozes forth every year from this genre pit, but this one really feels artificial and fabricated.

And most of that stems from the basic premise. Dempsey's character would be deemed in polite circles as a womanizer, while Monaghan's is a standard young woman, albeit of the art restoration variety. In a prologue that starts the film, they meet in college when he mistakenly climbs into her bed wearing just boxers and a Bill Clinton mask, thinking she's her roommate in a Monica Lewinsky one (boy, that's not only original, but incredibly hilarious -- note sarcasm).

Thus, for no good (or believable) reason beyond the following needing to occur to continue with the plot, they become best friends, and during the following 10 years, he doesn't even try to bed her. She then goes off to Scotland for six weeks and, lo and behold, returns with McKidd as her fiancÚ. But it doesn't stop there, as they're getting married in just two weeks, he turns out to be an ultra-wealthy duke, is apparently very well-endowed (and we're not talking financially), and otherwise comes across as the perfect guy.

Okay, at this point, you might expect that Tom becomes jealous and/or finally sees the light and decides he can't let go of Hannah who's obviously special because she's one of the few women who's never slept with him. But the filmmakers -- director Paul Weiland and screenwriters Adam Sztykiel and Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont -- have him come to that revelation before he learns of the Scottish boyfriend and pending nuptials. That decision doesn't make any sense temporally, and only adds to the film's misery of feeling forced and artificial.

From that point on, the film's humor is supposed to stem from two sources. First, there's Tom having to do all of the bridesmaid duties, including helping out with the trying on of wedding night lingerie (as if!). The only unexpected thing the filmmakers do occurs here, and that's not including the usually obligatory trying on clothes montage set to some lively old pop hit. Alas, we only get one view of Hannah in her skivvies, and the film then moves on from there.

The second part involves Tom's friends -- the standard array of usual best friend suspects -- convincing him that this new, seemingly emasculating role allows him the prime opportunity to sabotage the wedding and tell Hannah how he really feels. Nothing says funny like wrecking a pending marriage, but if the filmmakers had come up with some genuinely funny material, I might have let that slide. Not surprisingly, they don't.

Apparently needing the work, Kathleen Quinlan shows up as the bride's widowed mom, while the big surprise is why Sydney Pollack agreed to appear as Tom's dad. To make matters worse, there's the standard advice giving scene, albeit coming from a man on his sixth failed marriage and counting (talk about good role models).

But beyond all of those problems (and tons of nitpicky issues that would only end up beating this dead horse even more), the biggest issue is with the leads. Sorry folks, they just don't have any decent chemistry together, and without that, we don't have any reason to care. If anything, Dempsey's performance certainly makes one long for the likes of Hugh Grant who, while probably overused in the genre by now, certainly knows how to play this sort of part to perfection.

With about the only clever or fun thing about "Made of Honor" being its title (and that's not saying much), the guys once again end up short-changed when it comes to weddings, at least as portrayed in romantic comedies. Unless you can't live without these sorts of flicks, this is one aisle you might not want to walk down. The film rates as a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed April 28, 2008 / Posted May 2, 2008

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