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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Made of Honor (review)

Wedding Our Appetite

At first I thought, in spite of myself: Okay, this might work. I mostly hate romantic comedies because they tend to be neither romantic or comedic, and because they tend to be full of characters who behave in ways illogical even in the romantic-comedy universe, or who are unlikeable in any universe. But Made of Honor opens with 20 or 30 minutes or so of Tom — a self-made millionaire, entrepreneur, and smooth ladies’ man with some bizarre ideas about love and sex, like how they cannot ever be connected — and Hannah, his best friend, a museum restoration expert, a smart, savvy, down-to-earth woman who loves Tom, in a strictly platonic way, and treats his treatment of the women he dates — read: “sleeps with according to a set of rules that reduce those women to the status of, at best, favored concubines” — with exactly the kind of disdain it deserves.
You can see where it’s all going from the get-go, even if the blatant predictability of Made of Honor’s obvious path weren’t so, you know, blatantly predictable, because the marketing of the movie — hell, the title of the movie — spoils it all: Hannah will finally fall in love with a grown-up man capable of making a commitment, will agree to marry him, and will ask Tom to be her maid of honor; he is, after all, genuinely her best friend. And Tom will, of course, choose this moment to decide to grow up himself and admit to himself that all he really wants is to be with Hannah, in all the ways we use that phrase, and set himself on a course to spoil the wedding and win Hannah for himself.

But it was okay, at first, because our two stars, Patrick Dempsey (Enchanted, Freedom Writers) as Tom and Michelle Monaghan (The Heartbreak Kid, Gone Baby Gone) as Hannah, have an easy charm, even if you’ve never bought into the whole Doctor McDreamy thing that Dempsey will never be able to escape (I certainly haven’t), and even if you haven’t been keeping a weather eye, as I have, on Monaghan for a while now, to see if that spark of talent and energy and life she exudes would find fertile cinematic ground to truly blossom on. It’s impossible not to like her Hannah, but she probably would have been easy to like no matter what. The thing that made me hope for Made of Honor is that it’s also impossible not to like Tom, even if he is a hugely self-deluded jerk. Cuz you want him to get over the whole being-a-jerk thing — you really hope that he will.

But then it begins. What had been a charming if undaring story about two friends who might be able to fall in love stops trusting itself — and stops trusting the audience to stick with it without being dragged along by the nostrils. Slapstick rears its ugly head out of nowhere, as if we couldn’t appreciate Tom’s discomfort at being introduced to Hannah’s new fiancé, Colin (Kevin McKidd: The Last Legion, Kingdom of Heaven), just at the very moment when he realizes he’s in love with her without director Paul Weiland throwing in some personal mortification in the guise of trips and falls and physical awkwardness. It’s a jarring shift in tone in what had been, up till then, a story that was at least commuting to the real world.

But it gets so much worse. Hannah, who works for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, meets Colin on an extended business trip to Scotland to acquire some art, and it’s while she’s gone that Tom is struck by her absence, and how his merry-go-round of random girlfriends just can’t measure up — they may be beautiful and they may even be smart, but they aren’t in tune with him like Hannah is. Which is fine, and it works, as a story conceit goes. But the Scottish angle turns into a whole “aren’t foreigners funny?” thing — Hannah’s wedding is coming together superquick in the Highlands — which really rankles, because, you know, bagpipes and kilts and such are part of my whole ethnic thing, and there’s nothing particularly funny about it in and of itself, thank you very much. (You might think that even as xenophobic as Americans can be, picking on an ethnicity that a huge percentage of Americans share might be a poor choice, but perhaps screenwriters named Adam Sztykiel, Deborah Kaplan, and Harry Elfont might not realize that.)

That’s far from all. First come the fat jokes — one of Tom’s fellow bridesmaids is less than svelte, which is, of course, cause for endless “humor” (and again, you’d think Hollywood might catch on to the fact that Americans on the whole are less than svelte these days, and might not appreciate being made fun of in this way). Then come the gay jokes — because of course Tom must be gay if he’s the bride’s witness, because, geez, what other explanation could there be? Then come the dessert jokes — there’s a running motif about sharing desserts and how that represents how people share their lives, and it would work beautifully if it didn’t suggest that in the short but intense time Hannah spent with Colin before they decided to get married, they hadn’t shared a single dessert. Which is preposterous.

It all just gets more and more phony until the ending, which is so eye-rollingly awful that you want to throw something at the screen. If Made of Honor had just been terrible from the beginning, I wouldn’t have cared. But it wasn’t, so now I’m mad.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for sexual content and language

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
  • jenn

    While I would never see this anyway, I did find a scene in the tv trailer to be criminally stupid. When Dempsey gets introduced to the other bridesmaids and they are so “ugly”, he does a step back and makes kind of a gasping noise. By “ugly” I mean totally normal looking females who are not hollywood beautiful. Maybe I read way too much into this very quick moment, but I found myself wondering why a movie which is marketed to women would insult a large portion of it’s target audience. Why on earth would women find it funny to see average looking ladies the butt of jokes? Maybe this did not play out like this in the movie, just my gut reaction to the scene.

  • Melinda

    Jenn, i think he was gasping because one of the bridesmaids turns out to be a former conquest of his and she now hates him, rather than being appalled at the women…. His character does support the “larger” girl to eat during the lead up to the wedding, as she is determined to be a size 10.

  • Maddie

    He tells her to eat because he thinks she’s going to pass out. It’s not like he says she’s fine as she is and will look beautiful even if her dress isn’t a size 8. I find it extremely unlikely that a guy like the kind of guy he’s portraying would ever have that thought go through his head. Plus regardless of Tom’s actions towards her, the film is very unkind. She’s not a human being, she’s a joke, and her public humiliation is supposed to be funny.

    And yes, the dessert thing annoyed the crap out of me too, because really, what the hell? I know they hadn’t been together long, but they were supposedly together every single goddamn day until they went back to America. There’s no way they hadn’t eaten dessert together before. Plus people who just launch into other people’s desserts without an invitation are not sharing they’re lives, they’re just rude. I liked Hannah, but I didn’t buy that – she would’ve been smart enough to know that not everything is about sharing your dessert.

    Bah.

  • Frenk

    You mention the xenophobia of many Americans. I certainly see your point, but about Scotland? Come on. Xenophobia in the US — like too many things — is all about race. And the Scots just don’t qualify.

  • MaryAnn

    So then what’s behind making fun of Scotland and the Scots?

  • Some guy

    They sound funny to morons.

  • Xenophobia in the US–like too many things–is all about race.
    –Frenk

    Which, of course, explains all the rash of anti-French sentiment a few years ago…

  • Morons who find scottish accents funny should listen to a David Tennant tennant interview. Made me juust a little *lightheaded* when he used it as Dr Who in “Tooth and Claw”. Sigh.

  • Pharlain

    I wished they had found something more wrong with the scot than the fact that he hunted. That was supposed to be the big wakeup call to her that he’s not the guy for her? Jeez. The fact that he killed everything on that table made it probably the most eco friendly meal she’s ever had. Whatever, it was a stupid movie. But the horse at the end was the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.

  • Signal30

    I’ve only thrown something (popcorn) at the screen once once, during The Wedding Planner.

    Is Made of Honor worse than that… thing?

  • MaryAnn

    No, it’s not worse than *The Wedding Planner,* but only because Matthew McConaughey is not in it.

  • AJP

    The only thing I have seen Matthew McConaughey in where he was reasonably good was [i]Dazed and Confused[/i], and that was because the character he was playing was [i]supposed[/i] to be a sleazy slimeball.

  • Maddie

    That was supposed to be the big wakeup call to her that he’s not the guy for her? Jeez.

    No, it was the cake! Don’t forget the cake! It isn’t true love if your fiancé won’t let you eat his cake right off his plate! (I am so totally in Colin’s corner on this one – stealing someone’s cake isn’t cute, it’s just rude. If they offer it to you, that’s one thing, but she just sailed into it like it was hers, and then acted wounded when he tried to give her a bit.)

    The hunting thing was ridiculous. It was like something the writers tacked on after realising that their only argument in favour of Tom was the cake issue.

    “So…why is she dumping the hot Scottish guy again?”

    “Because he won’t let her steal his cake.”

    “You know, that sounded a lot more reasonable when we were high. Better throw in something else. Environmental concerns or something.”

    Seriously, if she’d been a vegan or a vegetarian, I could’ve bought it, but she wasn’t. She was completely okay with eating the meat until she found out Colin killed it, which just makes her an enormous hypocrite.

    Goddamn stupid movie, annoys me more every time I think about it.

  • MaryAnn

    No, it was the cake! Don’t forget the cake! It isn’t true love if your fiancé won’t let you eat his cake right off his plate!

    I can’t believe I’m gonna defend this movie (a little), but here goes: I don’t think it’s so much that Colin doesn’t allow her to steal his cake and Tom does, but that the cake thing is a shorthand for how close and in sync Hannah is with Tom. And that *does* work. What doesn’t work is the apparent suggestion that she has not attempted to share a single dessert with Colin in all the time they’ve been together. Or, even worse, that they have actually eaten dessert at the same table but that she never attempted to take some of his until their wedding dinner, as if marriage instantly conferred upon her the right to be rude, or even just an instant automatic “in-sync-ness.” For surely she must realize that what is acceptable behavior with one person isn’t always acceptable behavior with someone else, or that just because you’re suddenly married doesn’t mean you suddenly know each other any better. If she *doesn’t* realize that, then she shouldn’t be getting married to anyone.

  • Maddie

    the cake thing is a shorthand for how close and in sync Hannah is with Tom. And that *does* work.

    Oh, I got what it meant, it just didn’t work for me as a way of dismissing Colin, in that or any other way. They were shown as pretty well in sync (apart from Tom’s attitude to women) in any case, I didn’t need cake sharing to be convinced of that.

    But even if I could accept – and you’re quite right that it’s ridiculous – that Colin and Hannah never had dessert together before or that she’d never tried that before, Hannah is still presented as being crazy enough about Colin that she wants to marry him and immigrate, apparently doubt-free, within six weeks of meeting him, and yet what shakes her faith in their relationship is that there’s something she does with one person in her life that Colin doesn’t want to do. Since she hadn’t previously shown any romantic interest in Tom, and pretty much scorned his attitude to relationships, that just seemed like a weird jump, from “ways my BFF and I have been great friends for ten years” to “this is what makes a great marriage”.

    surely she must realize that what is acceptable behavior with one person isn’t always acceptable behavior with someone else

    Exactly. Hadn’t she dated anyone seriously since college? Did she dump all of them because they were out of sync on the cake issue?

    They could’ve made the movie work if there had been more time and other things going on, other developments of Colin’s character that showed that he might not really be the guy for her, and uncertainties on her part. As it was, it was just a lazy shortcut which, for me, failed on all counts, because it made me ask way too many questions. There was no need for it to highlight how close she and Tom were – the dessert guessing and Sunday hangouts established that fine – and it just made her decision to dump Colin look extremely shallow.

    Of course, it’s totally not worth this much thought, but hey. :)

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