Age has befriended Patrick Dempsey, seasoning a cute teenager into a great-looking man.
In "Made of Honor," however, age becomes Dempsey's enemy. Too old for his character, and especially for his character's playboy antics, Dempsey travels from McDreamy to McSeamy before reaching the precipice of McCreepy.
Tom (Dempsey) and Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) meet cute in college, with Hannah quickly assigning Tom to the friend category because of his lothario ways.
Fast-forward a decade later, and they're still best friends and he's still a runaround.
Trouble is, Dempsey is in his 40s and looks it, rendering him not just implausible as a contemporary of Monaghan's, but implausible as a charmer. Yes, the chic clothes and sports car impress — Tom, inventor of the paper sleeve that goes around coffee cups, drives and lives on easy street — but the womanizing does not.
A 30-year-old man who keeps his leggy dates at emotional arm's length and beds the housekeeper at a friend's parents' house is immature, perhaps. A 40-year-old who does these things is incorrigible.
Guys like him don't suddenly become romantics because his female best friend goes to Scotland and meets someone else. Guys like him become Jack Nicholson. Or Tom's father ( Sydney Pollack, wry as ever), who has married and divorced a string of 25-year-olds.
Dempsey's considerable charm keeps Tom from ever being unlikable. But there's a gulf between unlikable and lovable, which is what "Made of Honor" pushes him to be.
Director Paul Weiland and the film's screenwriters offer standard sitcom setups and forgettable supporting characters, in effect hanging the whole picture on Dempsey. And that's unfair. Julia Roberts at least had Rupert Everett to share the burden of "My Best Friend's Wedding." Monaghan ("Gone Baby Gone") brightens every scene she's in, reminiscent, in her radiance and the kindness she exudes, of Liv Tyler. And at some moments, she and Dempsey truly seem made for each other. But her character never develops beyond a sketch.
Is Hannah pining for Tom before she goes on her work assignment to Scotland? Maybe. It seems as if her hasty plans to marry Colin (Kevin McKidd, from HBO's "Rome"), a ruggedly handsome Scottish nobleman, result less from his irresistible appeal than from a decision to finally get over Tom. But we aren't privy to her point of view.
When she returns to New York, she insists Tom be her maid of honor. He decides to try to win her away from Colin, and "Made of Honor," in turn, becomes "My Best Friend's Wedding" redux — down to the rich, blond, likable rival.
Except the genders are reversed. "Made of Honor" elicits some laughs by playing the macho sensibilities of Tom and his hoops-playing buddies off the girlier aspects of wedding planning. But most of these moments already appear in the movie's trailer. Other, less-successful wedding-related scenes involve petty jealousies, a bridesmaid ordering a dress two sizes too small in the hopes of dieting into it — and more than a hint of misogyny.
But not from Tom. He grows more sympathetic once the wedding party travels to the land of McEverybodies: Scotland. Willing to act the fool, Dempsey at times turns his Julia Roberts role into a George Clooney role.
Clooney and Dempsey, after all, lead the ranks of uber-handsome leading men who captivate by refusing to take themselves too seriously. It's just that Dempsey has a way to go in picking big-screen material that suits him.
See the trailer and find local showtimes for "Made of Honor."