Tacky 'Made of Honor' Is Missing a Best Man

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 2, 2008

This just in . . .

Actors Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan are trapped in the wreckage of a bad romantic comedy. Observers suggest the vehicle in which they were riding was poorly engineered and believed to be constructed of cheap, recycled material. The severity of their injuries is unclear at this time.

Prospective Hollywood agents are standing by, thumbs on their BlackBerrys.

As we await further updates from our critic on the ground -- and he really is on the ground, our medical team is on top of that -- here's what we've learned so far. The vehicle is called "Made of Honor" -- a summer rom com clearly gone wrong. In custody are director Paul Weiland, best known for television episodes of British comedian Mr. Bean, and three screenwriters whom -- at this time -- we've never heard of.

How did this happen?

As we try to make sense of this unfolding situation, we will attempt to read from our reviewer's notes, though they're somewhat illegible due to his distress at what he saw . . .

* * *

"Made of Honor," like most any romantic comedy, revisits humanity's deepest yearning: to find the love of a lifetime. And the film clearly aims to explore the fun of romancing, and the entertaining differences between the genders -- topics to actively engage any audience. But as presented, "Made of Honor" turns all business of the heart into something sleazy, unpalatable and even disturbing. And instead of presenting two strongly appealing characters we practically want to reach out and push together, it makes us actively consider an intervention -- at least on Hannah's behalf.

That's right. We actually want to enter this fictional world and tell Hannah (Monaghan) to run screaming from Tom (Dempsey), who takes women down as if they were springboks on the veldt.

Even though she's his platonic pal since college days, we don't need to have sat through every Julia Roberts movie of the 1990s to know she's in trouble. It's just a matter of time before these buddies take longer and longer to pull away from their friendly hugs. What clinches it: Hannah's decision to marry the impossibly wonderful, rich and Scottish Colin (Kevin McKidd), and to have Tom as her "maid" of honor at the wedding.

The icky factor starts right away, when we meet Tom in his student days. (This is just moments before he "meets cute" with Hannah.) There he is, on Halloween, dressed up in a Bill Clinton mask, rolling a cigar lasciviously under his nose and looking for a prearranged roll in the bed with a coed wearing a Monica mask. What's disturbing about the movie, beyond its craven cribbing of the college-into-adulthood relationship of 1989's "When Harry Met Sally . . . " is its winky assumption that we'll chuckle and tacitly approve of Tom's rakish manner.

Cue the "fun"-of-romancing section, as Tom continues being Tom in his adult years. But instead of seeing through his rakish ways, women slip him their phone numbers, often hastily scrawled on Starbucks coffee sleeves. In the filmmakers' world view, women get what they deserve, or maybe they just don't understand the difference between a mischievous ladies' man and a basic horn dog.

Sure, Hannah disapproves of her best friend's MO but, she figures, that's just Tom. And how they chat endlessly -- apparently adorably -- about the best restaurants, the women who aren't speaking to him anymore, and his "rules" of dating. He will not do "back to back" dates with the same woman.

Dempsey and Monaghan's "it" factors were high coming into this movie. Dempsey's fresh from the hugely successful Walt Disney romance, "Enchanted" and that stint as surgeon "McDreamy" on TV's "Grey's Anatomy." Monaghan showed her sexy-funny side in "The Heartbreak Kid" and her more serious chops in "Gone Baby Gone." Yet they greenlighted a movie that never strays from predictability and puts them in an unflattering light.

That's why I could only assume both performers were coshed over the head, spirited away to a closed set and forced at gunpoint to participate in this movie. But as the movie continues its unerring descent into oblivion, all thoughts of intervention or rescue seem pointless. These characters -- and the actors who play them -- clearly deserve one another.

Made of Honor (101 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for sexual content and profanity.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company