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Originally published Friday, February 4, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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A wedding where you'll cry ... tears of boredom

Take "Four Weddings and a Funeral," and subtract the interesting characters (Simon Callow, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Hugh Grant when he...

Seattle Times movie critic

Take "Four Weddings and a Funeral," and subtract the interesting characters (Simon Callow, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Hugh Grant when he isn't stammering). To what remains, add the central male character from "My Best Friend's Wedding" — no, not Rupert Everett, the other one, the dull cute guy. Mix it up, being sure to leave out any distinctive flavorings, and toss in a dash of "Pretty Woman."

Add some generic pop music and some truly horrid hairdos for its female star, and you've got Clare Kilner's "The Wedding Date" — a shamelessly by-the-numbers romantic comedy that's ultimately as dull as an overlong bridal shower. (Like a bridal shower, it's probably more fun if you have some champagne first. Perhaps some enterprising theater manager will consider this.)

Debra Messing, of TV's "Will and Grace," plays Kat, a thirtysomething ninny who's reluctant to show up at her sister's posh London wedding without a date — especially since Kat's ex-fiancé is the best man. So she does what any thinking woman would do: She cashes out her 401(k) to pay for a male escort to fly across the Atlantic with her and pose as her new heartthrob.

Movie review

Showtimes and trailer 1.5 stars

"The Wedding Date," with Debra Messing, Dermot Mulroney, Amy Adams, Jack Davenport, Sarah Parish, Jeremy Sheffield, Peter Egan, Holland Taylor. Directed by Clare Kilner, from a screenplay by Dana Fox, based on the novel "Asking for Trouble" by Elizabeth Young. 85 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual content including dialogue. Several theaters.

Do you really need me to tell you that the hooker (Dermot Mulroney) turns out to have a heart of gold, along with his buns of steel? And that the two fall in love, and say gooey things to each other like "I think I'd miss you even if we'd never met"? And that they fight, and make up, and wear nice outfits, and generally behave in a way that people only behave in the movies?

It's all chick-movie fantasy, and occasionally it's amusing; Messing is a performer of considerable charm, and Mulroney is certainly easy on the eyes (though, as in "My Best Friend's Wedding," he does seem to be operating at a slower speed than everybody else).

But plenty of other movies have walked down this particular aisle, and Kilner never succeeds in making "The Wedding Date" distinctive, except perhaps as an advertisement for the male-escort industry, which should expect a flurry of calls right about now. (Fun fact: According to this movie, a week in London with a Dermot Mulroney type costs a mere $6,000.)

As "The Wedding Date" dribbles toward its predictable conclusion, you find yourself vainly searching for Rupert Everett on the dance floor — or, at least, wishing for champagne, to counteract a movie desperately in need of fizz.

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