Written by: Mike Caccioppoli, Feature Film Critic
If there’s one thing that dooms most romantic comedies – other than the fact that most are neither romantic nor funny – is that we usually don't believe that anyone is really in love.
Some critics will blame the failure of a romantic comedy on a lack of chemistry between its leads, but I think that's an excuse. For me, it comes down to the writing, and all too often, the scripts for these movies force its leads into one contrived situation after another, expecting us all the while to play along.
Here's the big surprise: Made of Honor works because we can actually believe that its two main characters have genuine affection for each other.
Patrick Dempsey is Tom, a thirtysomething (even though Dempsey is forty-something) bachelor who loves to play the field but is afraid to settle down. He has strict rules when it comes to dating: He won't have sex with the same girl two nights in a row. He won't call a girl until 24 hours after he gets her phone number. Hannah (Michelle Monaghan), his best friend since college, knows Tom’s rules inside and out, so she decided long ago that they would just be friends. In fact they spend a lot of time together since Tom is a wealthy businessman (he invented those coffee cup rings that keep you from getting burned) with nothing better to do than go shopping with Hannah. They have much in common, (steamed not fried food at dim sum), and they play a game at a local bakery where Hannah guesses what kind of cake Tom is going to order that day. Yes, they seem perfect for each other.
When Hannah takes a six week long trip to Scotland, Tom finds that he really misses her. He can’t wait for her phone calls even though the connection is usually awful. He begins to tell his basketball buddies that he has feelings for her and that when she gets back he’s going to tell her that he wants them to be more than just friends. However Murphy’s Law kicks in because when she returns it’s with her new beau Colin (Kevin McKidd) whom she met in Scotland. To add insult to injury Hannah asks Tom to be her maid of honor at the wedding, which is to take place really soon back in Scotland. Thinking that he may have a shot at winning her back, he decides to accept her offer.
The fact that we know that Tom and Hannah are meant to be together and that Colin isn’t exactly right for her is a common plot thread in most romantic comedies. This is the tried and true “Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl” formula. Made of Honor doesn’t exactly go out of its way to break free from this formula but I really didn’t expect it to. What it’s able to do is create flesh and blood characters. Tom is the kind of guy that most men can relate to, he enjoys having fun without responsibility to anyone but himself, but when he begins to question that path and falls in love with Hannah, the transition is made effortless by Dempsey. We really feel for the dope when he’s without her and his pain is real and isn’t just played for dumb laughs. Most importantly and totally unique in this kind of movie is that as their relationship changes it doesn’t seem contrived or forced. The film even makes Colin a real person too; he isn’t here to be used as a convenient plot device to get in the way of Tom and Hannah’s destiny. When that inevitable climax arrives, even though director Paul Weiland botches it a bit with some over the top silliness, we can see that Colin is genuinely hurt by the turn of events. Made of Honor proves that any formula can work if it has characters that not only we can care about but actually seem to care about each other.