Friday, May 02, 2008

"Made of Honor" -- * 1/2

"That's so generic." It takes some hefty balls to include that line of dialogue in a film that is itself so flavorless, dumb and uninspired. But Paul Weiland's "Made of Honor" is so reliant on its audience's simple-mindedness that it never even pretends to be anything other than crass, bland, formulaic drivel. For a romantic comedy, there's little attempt to even wedge in actual romance-- we see little-to-no chemistry or even interaction between our two leads-- and instead uses big, loud, crude jokes as crutches for the weak sauce that makes up this script. You've seen every joke, plot element and "romantic" moment on display here a dozen times before, but that didn't stop my audience (i.e.: mid-forties white women wearing McDreamy t-shirts) from swallowing it all down with shit-eating grins on their faces.

In terms of plot, just imagine "My Best Friend's Wedding" if the sexes were reversed, Julia Roberts did end up with Dermot Mulroney, and every few minutes, someone farted loudly or fell down. Here, Tom (Patrick Dempsey) has been in love with Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) since college, but naturally they've just stayed best friends. Through the years, he's maintained his college-established status as a promiscuous dickhead. Now, when Hannah tells him she's finally been swept off her feet-- by Scotsman Colin (Kevin McKidd)-- he realizes how stupid he's been and must do what he can to stop the wedding in time. The catch: Hannah's named him her "Maid of Honor," which is explained as making sense by her saying she'd be his best man. Much wackiness and jokes about Tom being gay or femininely-titled ensue.

At one point, Tom is labeled as misogynistic, but the descriptor would be more applicable to the movie itself. Hannah is given no definition other than that she wants to get married, and she insultingly switches affections between Tom and Colin on whims with little thought or explanation. This is also a film that uses women merely as disposable objects either to be fucked by McDreamy, or dismissed with "ewww"s. If female characters don't subscribe to the movie's ideas of perfection (e.g.: they wear glasses or are slightly chubby), they're treated as jokes and dismissed as 'gross' or predators. Oddly sexist stuff for an entertainment chiefly intended for those with vaginas.

Realizing it's shooting for the cheap seats, the movie plays it safe and dumb whenever it can. You'll be clued in early on by a puke gag indicative of things to come. Later on, Tom accidentally runs into a waiter at a restaurant and knocks over all his food... not once, but twice. The movie also embraces such groundbreaking material as having characters assume Tom's gay at least a half dozen times, and having old Grandma Pearl cluelessly wearing sexual aids as jewelry. When Tom and his buddies walk in on Colin in the locker room shower, you'll be wondering with bated breath what the big joke will be. You guessed it-- he has a big dick. Ba-dum-bum. And they all stare with their mouths agape, like all real heterosexual guys do when encountered with big dicks in locker rooms.

Dempsey radiates blandness every step of the way, much as he did in "Enchanted" (and as I imagine he does on "Grey's Anatomy"). His sole appeal to women has got to be his looks, since he has no personality to speak of, and can't even muster much charm here. But as if his emptiness wasn't dispiriting enough, Tom is made to be such an unlikable prick, that I couldn't help wondering why we're supposed to be rooting for him. Judging by his revitalized fan base, Dempsey's got something I just must not be able to detect. Whatever it is, it's certainly not on display anywhere here.

Monaghan has yet to have a good/complex/interesting character to play, and at this point, I'm still in no position to determine if that's due to her options or her skill level. Mostly she just vacuously smiles here, but Hannah has even less depth than Monaghan's had to work with in the past. As for who's wasted the most in the supporting cast, it's a bit of a toss-up. I'm inclined to go with Sydney Pollack in a 2.5-scene stint as Tom's horny, chronic-divorcer father, but I have to bestow the honor upon Kathleen Quinlan. The one-time Oscar nominee just stands around in the background of scenes as Hannah's mother; I honestly can't recall if she even had any dialogue.

For much of "Made of Honor," the movie stops just short of painful and just settles for slumming, lazy mediocrity. However, at around the two-thirds mark (at which point the characters head to Scotland for Hannah and Colin's wedding), the movie pushes into shit territory. For proceedings that were largely plotless/pointless to begin with, the movie begins just treading water with sequences of manly Scottish competition and back-an-forth confessions of love. For anyone who's previously been surprised by the movie's lack of aggressive badness, this section will do the trick.

Through all of its 100 minutes, the film wallows in eye-rolling predictability in terms of both the plot and the filmmaking itself. From the insertion of a sassy black friend for Tom to the obvious music cues (Kanye's "Gold Digger" is played over an image of... a gold digging woman), I half-expected an actual machine to be credited as director. And Tom's aversion to saying "I Love You" to humans (he only says it to strange dogs) is mentioned so many times, it becomes apparent exactly, line-by-line, how the movie must end. Though, to be fair, the concluding "I Love You" monologue is even more laughably familiar than I expected it to be.

Going up against "Iron Man" in a bit of female-skewing counter-programming, the warmed-over "Made of Honor" will probably be a fairly sizable hit. Dempsey's inexplicably hot right now, and every non-hipster female I know wants to see it. Those who are comfortable getting exactly what they've seen before, and been carefully tested and crafted to be as inoffensive and unoriginal as possible, will probably eat it up with a spoon. But with even romantic comedies offering new twists on the same old ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Penelope") or at least delivering it in a funny, entertaining manner ("Leatherheads"), there's no reason we should have to settle for this horseshit.


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