Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
USA/United Kingdom, 2005. Gold Circle Films, 26 Films, Visionview Production. Screenplay by Dana Fox, based on the novel Asking For Trouble by Elizabeth Young. Cinematography by Oliver Curtis. Produced by Jessica Bendinger, Paul Brooks, Michelle Chydzik Sowa, Nathalie Marciano. Music by Blake Neely. Production Design by Tom Burton. Costume Design by Louise Page. Film Editing by Mary Finlay.
Debra Messing is heading to London to attend her half-sister Amy Adams‘ wedding, but the occasion has within it a potentially explosive situation: she was once engaged to Jeremy Sheffield and he dumped her, something she hasn’t gotten over, and he’s the Best Man to the groom (Jack Davenport). Unwilling to show up without a hot date on her arm, Messing hires a high-priced escort (Dermot Mulroney) to fly over with her, paying him an exorbitant sum to be well-dressed, well-spoken and, for the purposes of all watching, madly in love with her. If she wants his action between the sheets, that’s extra, but she insists that she finds that unsavoury and opts out of the bonus plan (because this is a movie you want to be able to watch with your mother, of course). Catching up with Sheffield, Messing is convinced that he’s still in love with her and wants her back, so she overdoes her happiness with her pretend partner to torture her ex as much as possible in the name of revenge, not expecting that her repartee with her hired hand will turn into something of a challenge that then ignites her interest in him as well. Billed as a reverse Pretty Woman, this is a downright unpleasant, unfunny romantic comedy that has none of its elements worked out in advance: its heroine is meant to be delightful and capricious but she’s gloomy and judgmental, Adams as her sister can never figure out just how dim-witted she wants to play the role (nor is the character ever held to account for her most outrageous excesses), and Holland Taylor as their mother is phoning in a bland caricature from a hundred year-old boulevard comedy. Mulroney is the only person who impresses, for aside from how good he looks in a suit, he convinces you that he makes it his business to show up confident and prepared to make someone else’s erotic fantasies come true outside the bedroom as well as in; unfortunately, the actor is far more comfortable with the character’s career choice than are either director Clare Kilner or screenwriter Dana Fox (adapting the novel Asking for Trouble by Elizabeth Young), who don’t seem to be aware of what is involved in sex work (even at its classiest levels). The poor chemistry between the leads is made more confusing by a third-act that makes very little sense and a conclusion that is downright preposterous, this film feels like the cheap version of My Best Friend’s Wedding made by sheltered twelve year-olds.