Made of Honor (2008) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content and language (edited from an original R rating)
Running time: 101 min
Cast: Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin McKidd, Kadeem Hardison, Chris Messina, Richmond Arquette, Busy Phillips, Whitney Cummings, Emily Nelson, Kathleen Quinlan, Sydney Pollack, James Sikking, Kevin Sussman
Director: Paul Weiland
Screenplay: Adam Sztykiel, Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont
Review published May 16, 2008
Lifelong bachelor womanizer Tom (Dempsey, Enchanted) gets a taste of his own medicine when his best friend Hannah (Monaghan, The Heartbreak Kid), who has had the hots for him for years (but he doesn't want to ruin the friendship by making her another notch in his bedpost), goes away on a Scottish vacation. Her absence from his life makes his heart grow fonder for her, and he's sure it can only be love, which he intends to pursue once she returns. Before he can get the gumption to tell her, she springs a surprise -- she's getting married to Colin (McKidd, The Last Legion), a man she met in Scotland and moving away for good.
Being her best friend causes her to ask him to be put in the emasculating position of maid of honor, which he has no choice but to accept, but one thing he won't deal with is that he might lose the best thing that ever happened to him. Tom decides the best course of action is to be the best maid of honor she's ever had, with her every step of the way, but only because he plans to woo her away. It would work, if only the man she is madly in love with weren't his better in practically every way that counts.
If there's one kind of romantic comedy that is bound to irk me, it's the kind that relies on contrivances and slapstick to push forward the semblance of story and humor without much in terms of originality. Here we have a classic case, where we must believe that a man's best friend wouldn't so much as hint that she is going on a date with someone she has met on vacation, much less marry the guy. Then she expects that all of her friends and everyone in her family will magically have time in two short weeks to plan an impromptu trip to Scotland for her big wedding.
The makers of Made of Honor are banking on one thing: Dempsey's magnetism with female rom-com regulars will have them goo-goo eyed enough to overlook the by-the-numbers plot and not-terribly-amusing shenanigans. Not to mention that the screenwriters can't leave a pleasant story well enough alone. The injection of crass humor occurs just often enough to break the mood, especially a recurring gag about glow-in-the-dark anal beads that Hannah's grandmother thinks is jewelry to be worn around her neck. Tom chuckles about the misunderstanding, but Hannah doesn't think it's funny -- she's right, it's not. Then the gag recurs, not once, but twice.
Like many desperate romantic comedies, the characters are put into embarrassing situations that they must use their resolve to bust out of. The lesser examples in the genre go for laughs by making the characters do things we know they wouldn't do. A scene late in the film has Tom in a hurry, not able to drive or swim to get to his destination, so his only option is to take a horse. Does such an urban playboy know how to ride a horse? It's never established, but he not only knows exactly how to ride one without any problems, he speeds around on it, making jumps that would win him equestrian competitions, as if it's second nature.
The contrivances take a great deal of liberties. Hannah is painted as an animal lover, and the first chink in the armor of Colin's "perfectness" is that he has killed the venison they are about to eat. She's about to marry a guy and doesn't know he's an avid hunter? One would think the many trophy heads around the house might be an indicator. That scene is followed up by one where Colin comes out with bagpipes and plays a loud ditty that Hannah finds a bit unnerving. She is then told that Colin loves to play and does so every night. Are we supposed to believe that Hannah spent enough time on her six week vacation with Colin for her to accept a marriage proposal, but she's never, not once, spent an evening with him? He also has overbearing table manners at dinner, which she has never noticed before, leading to the conclusion that perhaps she has never even gone out on a date with this man of her dreams.
I guess we shouldn't expect much looking at the filmographies of the creative minds behind the film. Director Paul Weiland's career started inauspiciously with one of the worst films of the 1980s, Leonard Part 6, and its "peak" came with City Slickers II: Curly's Gold. Weiland's injection of a woefully predictable and unoriginal soundtrack detracts -- a basketball game is set to Snap!'s vastly overused "The Power", a Highland games competition mystifyingly dips into Frankie Goes to Hollywood's anti-war anthem "Two Tribes", and these are some of the better choices, mind you. First-time screenwriter Adam Sztykiel provided the original screenplay, which was then tooled over by the team of Kaplan and Elfont, whose previous films include the awful Surviving Christmas and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.
Made of Honor is a shallow film made by shallow people, who think that populist casting and energy is more than enough to please those who like romantic comedies. Perhaps the ladies who fawn over Dempsey will see just enough shots of him in a towel or tux to satisfy their carnal hungers, but anyone immune will find there isn't much else to occupy the mind while predictable, borderline insulting scenes fly by throughout. The film isn't always unpleasant, but it is entirely disposable. Like Starbucks, which is featured so prominently throughout the film, is to the world of gourmet coffee houses, this kind of film is strictly for those who prefer form over content. Made of Honor was made to order by avaricious studio execs, but far from made with the finest, freshest ingredients available.
©2008 Vince Leo