ROMANTIC COMEDY TIME MACHINE: I Rewatched "The Wedding Date" So You Don't Have To

I think it was meant to be a reverse "Pretty Woman," but it’s more a "The Truth About Cats and Dogs," or any other romantic comedy that strives to make a woman Believe In Herself through A Man’s Love.

Jun 30, 2014 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

Hello, friends, and welcome to another installment of Romantic Comedy Time Machine! Just like a couple of weeks ago, I am revisiting a recent romantic classic.
 
This week: "The Wedding Date"! Remember this one? It starred Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney. I think it was meant to be a reverse "Pretty Woman," but it’s more a "The Truth About Cats and Dogs," or any other romantic comedy that strives to make a woman Believe In Herself through A Man’s Love.
 
"The Wedding Date" came out in 2005. I saw it in the theater with my dad. Sidebar: This is a weird movie for a 23-year-old woman to watch with her father. What was I doing then? I thought I spent most of 23 drinking, but I guess I took a break to watch a hooker comedy with my old man? My dad died a few years ago, and I rewatched this on Father’s Day, so this dumb movie about a male escort got me all weepy. You’ve been warned. 
 
2005 seems not too distant as far as the Internet goes, but the opening credits of "The Wedding Date" show a bunch of escort ads circled in a newspaper. You guys remember newspapers? They’re like blogs, but printed, and harder to comment on. Craigslist was definitely around back then, but a lady’s browser history isn’t as visually effective. 
 
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This is a “newspaper.”

 
 
We learn that Debra Messing’s character Kat is a professional woman in the Big Apple. There’s a montage of her packing in a hurry and looking at old photos. On behalf of other Type-As: excuse me, we don’t do things that way! Type-A women pack quickly and efficiently. We definitely don’t dilly-dally in memory boxes. 
 
Kat is on her way to her sister’s wedding in England, where her ex-fiancé is the best man. Instead of facing it all alone, this ostensibly smart woman has hired escort Nick Mercer (Mulroney) to fool people into thinking she’s doing great. 
 
HOLD. UP. In what universe is hiring an escort you’ve never met before better than seeing your family on your own? Doesn’t it seem like the potential for disaster is SUBSTANTIALLY greater than if you’d just admitted you were single? Or, if you couldn’t do that, why not take a blazer and put it on a chair and say your date is in the bathroom? Srsly, Kat: Your decisions are bad. I’m beginning to wonder if you’re as “smart” and “successful” as you say you are.
 
Upon meeting Kat’s family, her aunt Bea asks Nick what he does for a living, and then her dad asks where she found him. Cue panic!! How do they not have a back-story on deck?! Kat gives Nick $6,000 in cash for the services and he clarifies that it’ll cost more for bonin’. Kat is all “Ew gross sex work!” Gurl, you just handed six grand to an escort.
 
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What could go wrong? 

 
I actually really like this Debra Messing lady, even if her character is insane. I like that she’s got loud orange hair and wears a red satin dress with fuchsia lipstick, just like, what. 
 
(At this point I have in my notes “skeleton with a heart of gold.” I have no idea what I meant by that but I call it for the title of my first album.) 
 
Through a very long middle section, Kat and Nick partake in a lot of pre-wedding festivities -- him with the guys, her with the gals. She has no problem trusting him to say the right things around the people who know her best. He’s a freaking stranger! And they didn’t plan their back-story! Type-A me over here is panicking. 
 
After getting lit up at the bachelorette party, Kat pulls a ton of cash out of an ATM and seduces Nick in her father’s wooden boat. When Kat wakes up the next morning she looks made-up and perfect. Yeah, this is definitely not what happens after a night of drunken doing it. 
 
Nick finds all of Kat’s cash and is OUTRAGED that she would have considered paying him for sex! Like he’s some goddamn...prostitute!
 
Oh and also, Kat says that she can’t totally remember boning. Adding black-out sex to the already complex theme of prostitution gives "The Wedding Date" a platform to discuss power dynamics, class, and questions of consent. Who’s exploiting who? The movie doesn’t delve further into the subject, but if you are taking a women’s studies class, you could write something smart about this. That’s a freebie. 
 
Like your regular hooker/John (Jane?) quarrel, these two lovebirds dance it out, and all is forgiven. Kat tries to get to know Nick personally. He tells her he hates anchovies, majored in comparative literature at Brown, and would miss her even if they’d never met. This is hardly informative. Also: barf. 
 
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Power dynamics, sex work, and classical dance. One of you should write a thesis on that. 

 
When the wedding finally rolls around, the two are legit in love. Kat’s dad gives nice dad advice. My eyes water a little; there must be a ghost chopping onions near my couch. Nick tells Kat that he’d rather fight with her than make love with anyone else. This is meant to be sweet, but no! Red flag! This is terrible codependent behavior! The very recently won affection I have for this movie is no more. 
 
There’s an epilogue about how upon returning to New York, Nick quits the business. DUDE. WAIT. Do you have a back-up plan? Hooking might be the best use of your Ivy League comparative lit degree. (No offense! I love books!) 
 
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Ahoy, sexy. 

 
My takeaway:
 
  • Sex work can be cool unless the people involved in the transaction are not cool about it. Looking at you, both of you.
  • Our system of higher education is broken in that it sells very expensive degrees in mostly-useless areas for tens of thousands of dollars, leaving destitute graduates with no real career prospects other than sex work.
  • Gingers can pull off hot pink lipstick.
  • I miss my dad.
  • Dermot Mulroney should take his shirt off more often (see above).
 
Thanks for reading! I hope you can join me next time, when we throw in fat-shaming and Ryan Reynolds. Stay tuned!