Judd Apatow's crew may have invigorated the R-rated romantic comedy with winners like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but for movie fans who prefer their entertainment a bit less ribald, PG-13 rom-coms remain as stale as ever. Witness Made of Honor, a My Best Friend's Wedding clone positioned this weekend as counter-programming to the comic book action flick Iron Man.
Patrick Dempsey stars as the unabashedly raffish Manhattanite bachelor Tom. Awash in a fortune earned by inventing the little sleeves that coffee drinkers slip onto their cups to avoid burning their hands, Tom hops from bed to bed with various beautiful women, regaling best friend Hannah with stories of his conquests afterward. Turned off to the concept of marriage by his serial divorcé father, Tom is content to have his emotional needs served by Hannah and his physical needs served by just about every other single woman in New York.
But when Hannah leaves for an extended business trip in Scotland, darned if the absence doesn't make Tom's heart grow fonder. Confronted with the realization that the girl of his dreams was right there beside him all along, he resolves to reveal his true feelings to Hannah as soon as she returns from Scotland.
Much to his astonishment (but not to ours), Hannah arrives home with a fine Scottish bloke (gamely played by Kevin McKidd) on her arm and a ginormous rock on her finger. Inadvertently adding insult to poor Tom's injury, she asks him to be her Maid of Honor. He accepts the invitation, eyeing it as his best opportunity to convince Hannah to change her mind -- a task made all the more difficult by the fact that the wedding is a mere two weeks away.
Calling a romantic comedy predictable has itself become a cliché, so I won't belabor that point. The truth is, I don't mind knowing where a plot is going as long as I have a good time getting there. In getting there, Made of Honor alternates between cute and funny and torturously hackneyed.
The movie is undoubtedly at its best when Dempsey and Monaghan share screen time. The two co-stars exhibit a natural, breezy chemistry in all of their scenes together. Perky Monaghan really hits that Meg Ryan/Molly Ringwald sweet spot -- able to look homely in one scene and hot in the next, she's attractive enough to maintain male interest, yet relatable to women. Similarly, Dempsey remains charming and likeable even when he's at his most inconsiderate and chauvinistic.
When the two aren't together on-screen, however, the story flounders with an overabundance of exceedingly lame comic devices: A nerdy, socially inept gym rat keeps trying in vain to get into Tom's and his friends' pickup game; a corpulent bridesmaid goes to ridiculous lengths to fit into her two-sizes-too-small dress; an old lady mistakes a sex toy for a piece of jewelry -- and even wears it to the wedding!
More galling than Made of Honor's comic foibles, however, is its bogus claim to be a romantic comedy told from the guy's perspective. Right. Fact is, if this were any more of a chick flick, it would ovulate.
Patrick Dempsey is a great actor and I'm sure a fine human, but he is not -- nor has he ever been -- a guy's guy. Never in my life have I heard any of my golf buddies utter, "Boy, I'd like to have a beer with that Patrick Dempsey dude." George Clooney, Russell Crowe, Vince Vaughn and even Adam Sandler, perhaps, but never Dempsey. This is McFreakingDreamy, for Pete's sake.
Misleading marketing aside, fans of conventional, sappy romantic comedies will fall for Made of Honor's charms, and Grey's Anatomy devotees with swoon at Dempsey's various shirtless scenes. Fans of more testosterone-oriented fare, however, may find themselves ditching their dates and sneaking into showings of Iron Man.