leave a comment --Angel Cohn
It might be best to discreetly misplace your invitation to these strained festivities. Neurotic New Yorker Kat Ellis (Debra Messing), an airline customer service representative, flips out when she's invited to the London wedding of her petite, self-centered, perfectly blond half sister, Amy (Amy Adams). Amy is marrying boy-next-door Edward (Jack Davenport), and Edward's best friend, Jeffrey (Jeremy Sheffield), just happens to be the man who jilted Kat two years ago. Undone by the thought of facing her former fiancé without a date, she hires one. An in-the-know friend recommends handsome professional escort Nick Mercer (Dermot Mulroney), who charges $6000 for his suave company and extra for sexual services. Kat finds the idea of sex for money appalling, but continues with the date. Once in London, Kat is bombarded with reminders of her past with Jeffrey, including pointed remarks from her outspoken mother (Holland Taylor). Nick demonstrates why he gets the big bucks, smoothly comforting and calming Kat. He meets the approval of her sweet stepfather (Peter Egan) and gal pals, and the large fee appears to be paying off when Jeffrey mistakenly admits he's jealous that the woman he still loves has arrived at yet another family gathering with a new man. When this tidbit trickles back to Kat, she starts feeling more confident about her situation. But things aren't always what they seem, and Kat soon begins to realize that her dream date may actually be the man of her dreams. While apparently aiming for a cross between PRETTY WOMAN (1990) and MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING (1997), first-time writer Dana Fox and director Clare Kilner, the party responsible for the equally unappealing HOW TO DEAL (2003), never get a handle on the film's tone. It flip-flops from light romantic comedy to heavier issues and cynical digs at marriage as an institution. While Messing is perfectly suited to playing the awkward-but-beautiful damsel in distress, Mulroney is poorly equipped to evoke the emotional toll of being a male prostitute. Adding to the muddle: Messing has vastly greater chemistry with the charismatic Sheffield than the wooden Mulroney, and Adams is utterly unlikable, even when she's supposed to be having a redeeming moment. As to the "surprising" twists and turns, any halfway movie-savvy viewer will see every one of them coming before Kat's plane begins its descent into Heathrow.