By Alan Scherstuhl
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Carolina Del Busto
By Amy Nicholson
By Simon Abrams
By Kevin Dilmore
By New Times
By Amy Nicholson
And then, of course, there's the My Best Friend's Wedding connection, only the filmmakers and McDreamy have been so up-front about the resemblance between their offering and 1997's threesome that to acknowledge any further similarities would be playing right into their grubby paws.
There's not an original thought in this movie's empty brain; it should entertain only those still getting adjusted to the idea of talkies. The storyline, which also borrows liberally from every episode of every single sitcom in which men and women sit around and grouse ever-so-wittily about the opposite sex, doesn't amuse, amaze, or attempt to be anything other than a pleasant, forgettable diversion. As Dempsey admitted in a recent interview, "we're not reinventing the wheel here," and it just might be considerably more enjoyable to watch him change a flat.
The torture begins in 1998 at Cornell, where, we're supposed to believe, Dempsey (who turned 42 in January) and Monaghan (who turned 32 in March) are in the same class. Dempsey — wearing a Bill Clinton mask, under which he seems to have on a vaguely creepy-looking Young Patrick Dempsey mask — climbs into bed with Monaghan, thinking she's the "Monica" whose dress he's scheduled to stain that evening. Not so much: She's the roomie and doesn't take kindly to being assaulted in the middle of the night by a well-known Big Misogynist on Campus. She chews him out good, then . . . cut to New York City present day, where they're now the best of friends with no further explanation given or, apparently, necessary.
Dempsey's character, Tom, is a man of leisure, who made his fortune creating coffee cuffs — you know, the cardboard sleeves that protect your fingers from getting burned? (If only there were such a thing as romantic-comedy cuffs that prevented audiences from getting similarly scorched.) His sole profession seems to be bed-hopping, for which Tom's created myriad rules, among them: no "back-to-backs" (which, alas, is not a sexual position, much to one woman's chagrin), no taking dates to weddings or other family events (sends the wrong impression), and no calling a woman within 24 hours of being given her phone number (which happens, apparently, all the time — one even scribbles hers on a coffee cuff!).
Director Paul Weiland and the three(!) screenwriters it took to boil down thousands of bad movies to 101 minutes do, at least, attempt to offer an explanation for why Tom's unable to commit: Turns out he has . . . ta-da! . . . Daddy issues. They're courtesy of a father (played by Sidney Pollack, who brings more grace and gravitas to the film than it deserves) who can't remember if he's on his sixth or seventh marriage. Tom's dad is such a lech and fuck-up that he's negotiating his prenup, with an apparent stripper approximately one-tenth his age, seconds before she walks down the aisle. (The sticking point is a "bi-monthly BJ.")
Monaghan's Hannah, on the other hand, works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she restores old masterpieces — for a good three seconds, at least, until she's whisked away to Scotland on business, where she meets hunky Colin (Kevin McKidd). At least, it appears they meet in Scotland: The film cuts away right before their meet-cute on a rainy, sheep-filled dirt road, where a man approaches on horseback in the distance while Hannah's in her car on her cell with Tom. Weiland, whose subtle touch to storytelling served him well when he worked on the Mr. Bean TV series, doesn't even allow Monaghan a reaction shot as she spies the heroic stranger; no smile upon her lips, no glint in her eye, just a quick, hollow cut, print, that's a wrap.
And then and then and then: Weiland and his trio take us to all the expected places with all the familiar archetypes doing all the inevitable things people are supposed to do in movies featuring characters in a hurry to bust up their beloved's wedding to someone else. It never attempts, not once, to do anything other than push all the same buttons on the audience ATM.
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