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Made of Honor  (2008)
2 Stars
Directed by Paul Weiland.
Cast: Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin McKidd, Busy Philipps, Emily Nelson, Whitney Cummings, Sydney Pollack, Kathleen Quinlan, Selma Stern, Kadeem Hardison, Chris Messina, Richmond Arquette, James Sikking, Beau Garrett, Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
2008 – 101 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for sexual content and language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, April 29, 2008.
The second wedding-themed romantic comedy of the year headlined by a star of ABC's hit medical drama "Grey's Anatomy," Patrick Dempsey's "Made of Honor" might be ever so slightly better than Katherine Heigl's "27 Dresses," but that's only because the leads are a more charismatic match for each other. Otherwise, this is about as middle-of-the-road as you can get within the genre. Not good, not bad, just there, the film faithfully crosses off one timeworn cliché after the next, fraught with as many of the strained conflicts, unspoken words of truth, silent gazes of desire, out-of-proportion misunderstandings, and wedding-crashing professions of love the viewer could possibly expect from this kind of film. In place of a mad climactic dash to the airport are two separate scenes of characters being picked up and dropped off at the park-and-ride. What's missing is any sense of freshness or imagination.

They met in college ten years ago, on Halloween night, and are now the best of friends. Tom (Patrick Dempsey) is a man about town, wealthy from his invention of coffee holders and unable to commit to anyone beyond a one-night stand. Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) is a restoration artist, happy to be his confidante and sidekick. When she flies to Scotland on a six-week business trip and returns to Manhattan engaged to be married to Colin (Kevin McKidd), it is the kick in the pants Tom needed all along to make him realize how much he and Hannah are meant to be together. When Hannah asks Tom to be her maid of honor, he has no choice to accept. With mere weeks until the wedding and myriad obstacles in his path, Tom must find a way to finally tell Hannah that he loves her.

Directed by Paul Weiland (whose greatest claim to fame up until now has been 1994's "City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold"), "Made of Honor" offers no surprises as it wastes a lot of time working up to the blindingly predictable conclusion. At least 1997's very similar "My Best Friend's Wedding" had a final trick up its sleeve and ended on a less obvious and more bittersweet note; this sex-reversal knockoff doesn't have the courage to do anything nearly as drastic. Screenwriters Adam Sztykiel and partners Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont (2004's "Surviving Christmas") do an amiable job at the onset in setting up Tom's and Hannah's platonic friendship, but after that it's strictly paint-by-numbers plotting with frustratingly dumbed-down character actions that make the viewer long to slap some sense into them. Yes, this is one of those movies where everything could be solved in five minutes if only the characters opened up their mouths and maturely discussed what was on their minds.

The details of the story (and the casting) have also not been thought out well. The prologue, set in college, circa 1998, depicts the initial meet-cute between Tom and Hannah, and the make-up used on 42-year-old Patrick Dempsey is so convincing that he looks like he just stepped off the set of 1987's "Can't Buy Me Love." When the narrative springs forward ten years, Dempsey looks like his normal, handsome, albeit modern-day self (i.e. twenty years older than college age). The stretch one has to make to believe him as a 31-year-old is, to be kind, sizable. Also problematic is the plot gimmick of having Hannah return from a brief overseas trip and already engaged to marry someone she has just met. This unintentionally causes her to look like a dim-bulb space cadet who has no reason to be jumping into marriage to someone she hardly knows. That her fiancé, Colin, is a bore of the blandest order is no help in buying this development; the audience is as clueless as Tom as to why she would give up her life and move to Scotland to be with a virtual stranger.

Patrick Dempsey (2007's "Enchanted"), asked to headline a film all by himself for the first time in over a decade, is likable and sincere as Tom. As love interest Hannah, Michelle Monaghan (2007's "The Heartbreak Kid") manages to maintain a sweetness even when her character is forced by the script to do some pretty unbelievable things. We want these two people to be together, it's just too bad it takes 101 overcooked minutes to do it in. The supporting ensemble have scant material to work with, though newcomer Emily Nelson (reminding of Melissa McCarthy) makes for bright comic relief as Hilary, one of Hannah's bridesmaids, and Selma Stern (2003's "Bruce Almighty") is adorable as Hannah's daffy Grandma Pearl. Respected veterans Sydney Pollack (2007's "Michael Clayton"), as Tom's frequently divorced father, and Kathleen Quinlan (2006's "The Hills Have Eyes"), as Hannah's mother, don't have enough to do to warrant their participation.

"Made of Honor" has some nice moments—a montage set to Oasis' "Stop Crying Your Heart Out" garners the appropriate emotions, and Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan are a cute pairing who excel when together. The film isn't a painful one to watch, but it does try on your nerves as the characters are asked to act below a normal person's intelligence and everything that is suspected of happening does. With a game cast in place, director Paul Weiland and his screenwriters would have done well to throw in some twists (or at least a little originality) before going in front of the cameras. This was most definitely not to be, as the finished product of "Made of Honor" can so clearly attest.
© 2008 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman