Don't you just hate it when the woman you secretly love gets engaged with another man? Tom (Patrick Dempsey) certainly does; he's been best friends with Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) ever since college, but only when another man proposes does Tom finally admit that he loves her. Now all he has to do is win her back. The idea behind "Made of Honor" is certainly classic as far as romantic comedies are concerned, which I guess is why the filmmakers stirred things up by making Dempsey's character the Maid of Honor. Then again, "stirred things up" might be too strong a term here; this movie is about as predictable and contrived as romantic comedies get, offering absolutely nothing new ... except, of course, for that whole male Maid of Honor thing. That, and a scene in which Hannah's grandmother wears a string of glow-in-the-dark sex beads, thinking it's a regular necklace. You certainly don't see that everyday.
The truth is that "Made of Honor" is no better and no worse than you expect it to be--you want a romantic comedy, you've got a romantic comedy. But if you want something more, something with greater depth of character and a few less one-liners, I'm afraid you'll have to keep looking. I won't go so far as to say that this movie is bad, but it definitely doesn't want to be anything other than Hollywood fluff with one or two over the top gags. I've repeatedly observed that romantic comedies never represent reality, but merely the illusion of happily ever after, and rest assured that "Made of Honor" is no exception to the rule. The problems with this film don't stem from an unrealistic plot filled with unrealistic characters; they stem from how ineffectively these unrealistic elements are used. You watch this film waiting for something new to surprise you, only to leave feeling as if you've been there and done that.
Still, there are worse films out there. I did smile more than once at the onscreen chemistry between Dempsey and Monaghan, chemistry so prominent that it seems unlikely their characters would act on their feelings so late in the relationship. Ten years ago, while still in college, Tom and Hannah met while he was dating her roommate. After a Halloween party, he snuck into Hannah's room wearing a Bill Clinton mask, believing her roommate was already there and waiting. Instead, he finds Hannah, who immediately sprays perfume into his eyes because she thinks he's an attacker. After flushing his eyes out in a water fountain, they strike up a conversation; Tom apparently believes that honesty is the best policy, especially for men who sleep around as much as he does. Hannah seems to find him charming, but she boldly asserts that she never sleeps with anyone like him.
In present day, Tom is the exact same womanizer he's always been. He's learned from the best; his father (Sidney Pollack) marries for the sixth time within the first thirty minutes of the film. Tom now follows a strict set of rules: never take any one woman on two consecutive dates, and wait at least twenty-four hours before calling someone new, because you'd seem desperate otherwise. How he maintains this lifestyle, I have no idea; what he does for a living is never alluded to, but his spacious Manhattan apartment hints at a decent salary. Be that as it may, he and Hannah--now an art historian--have been the best of friends ever since that fateful Halloween night. When she's called away to Scotland for six weeks, he begins to realize the affect she's had on his life; after all, the two have been virtually inseparable for ten years. Maybe he is in love with her. Maybe there's more to life than just sleeping with women (a concept his basketball buddies don't seem to understand, naturally).
Unfortunately, Tom gets the surprise of his life when Hannah returns to New York with her Scottish fiancé, Colin (Kevin McKidd), who's both a Duke and an owner of his family's whiskey distillery. Since Hannah knows that she would be Tom's Best Man at his wedding, she thinks it's fitting that he be her Maid of Honor. He begrudgingly takes on the role, believing he can somehow make her see that he's the right man, not Colin. As Tom plunges into the blatantly feminine world of wedding coordination and shower planning, he grapples with buried feelings, bad advice, and the wrath of Hannah's resentful cousin, Melissa (Busy Philipps).
The last twenty minutes of the story proper takes place in Scotland, where Hannah plans to live after the wedding. Naturally, this is when the romantic feelings between her and Tom finally begin to surface, and this, of course, creates more tension for that climactic moment when Tom rides a horse to the church and flies through the entrance. This is but one of many moments that sound funnier than they actually are. One of the film's most unnecessary side characters is a desperate nerd that tries to play basketball with Tom and his friends: How many times do they have to tell him no before he gets the idea? There's also a moment early on when Hannah is restoring a painting of a nude male; the movements of her head give the impression that she's giving the figure oral sex. The moment in and of itself is amusing, but it certainly doesn't work within the context of the story. But the biggest problem of "Made of Honor" is much more basic than a few inappropriate laughs--its formula is overused, a condition Dr. McDreamy can't even treat.