The Austin Chronicle

Made of Honor

Rated PG-13, 101 min. Directed by Paul Weiland. Starring Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Kevin McKidd, Kadeem Hardison, Chris Messina, Busy Philipps, Sydney Pollack.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., May 2, 2008

I don't know the first thing about first-time writer Adam Sztykiel, but it's easy enough to imagine your average struggling screenwriter holed up in his apartment, bouncing a red rubber ball off the wall, and trying to come up with that killer idea that will get him out of debt and into celebrity sit-downs at the Chateau Marmont. And then … eureka: Made of Honor. "Get it? It's like 'maid of honor' … only with a dude playing the bridesmaid … and he's in love with the bride, who's his best friend, so it's like his best friend's wedding. This thing totally writes itself!" Well, writes itself into a lie. Dempsey (TV's Dr. McDreamy) plays Tom, a slick playboy who, having previously invented the "coffee collar," now passes his days playing pickup with the boys and picking up chicks at Starbucks – chicks he will then subject to a ruthless set of dating rules meant to maximize his weekly influx of sexual encounters and minimize any messy emotional involvement. Best friend Hannah (Monaghan) is the go-to for family functions, antiques shopping, and a certain handsiness that only boy-and-girl-best-friends-in-the-movies are allowed (activities include linking arms, kissing on the mouth, and suction-cupping together for a nice slow dance). Then Hannah takes a six-week working vacation to Scotland, and absence makes Tom's heart sit up and go, "Huh, maybe I should reconsider the rules with my superhot best friend, who puts up with my preening and caddishness and emotional paralysis." Then Hannah returns home with a fiancé named Colin (McKidd) and a Highlands wedding to plan (hello, travel-porn shots of Scottish vistas). The script can veer from mean-spirited to uncomfortably blue (case in point: Sydney "Easy Paycheck" Pollack's prenup negotiation for a weekly "BJ"), making for a tonal discordance all the more disappointing considering co-writers and husband-and-wife team Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan got just the right read on mixing raunch with heart-on-the-sleeve sweets in Can't Hardly Wait. But forget all that: What this really comes down to is the film's central lie. Made of Honor pins its hopes on a character who acts utterly without honor and on an actor who has only two settings – sensitive or smarmy. The smarm wins, and that half-smirk Dempsey wears throughout is not that of Prince Charming, but a prick.

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