Comedy, Not Romance
While romance films are the product of humans’ inherent need for intimacy, romantic comedies fulfill a greater entertainment value. Stripped to its core, this genre of film takes advantage of our need for fantasy, and challenges the most cynical people, that love conquers all. Now Made of Honour is not perfect. Romance films never are. They can be measured by the emotional punch delivered. Why should we root for the couple? Why is their breakup so tragic? Is there a happily ever after for them? On a superficial level, Tom and Hannah pass the litmus test for a film compelling enough, for me. However, the obvious love affair is not the bite we should be looking for. Even for unrealistic film universes, Made of Honour is actually quite dull underneath its comedic layer. Their union is expected, because it is what we have adapted to, decades upon decades of Titanic and The Notebook serving as references for our conditioned minds. Maybe that’s the flaw with rom-coms; they just don’t pack enough emotional flavour.
Fresh from his starring role as “McDreamy” from Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey plays Tom, a dashing, yet emotionally-stunted bachelor. He seems to know his way around a woman’s hair faster than he can ditch them, and he is certainly reminiscent of all of the film fuckboys than have come before him. In fact, Dempsey himself weirdly fits the role, as he landed the role of the cheater in superstar overload, Valentine’s Day. Hannah, played by Michelle Monaghan, is not as sexually adventurous as he is. Today, they are best friends, without any romantic complications. A platonic friendship, impossibly true by Tom’s insatiable appetite. Everything he could possibly want is at his disposal; hot women, money, and a generic male posse that listens to him ramble about how he prefers Suzie to Suzanne. That perfect lifestyle is temporarily stopped, when she goes to Scotland for six weeks on a business trip. Lonely without her companionship, and discovering that he wants more than just the weekly Sunday hangouts, Tom pledges to win Hannah once and for all. After all, who could say no to the warming smile of Tom Bailey/Patrick Dempsey?
Hannah, in addition to the scotch from the duty-free shop at the airport, has brought a Scottish bloke with her. Colin, played by Kevin McKidd, another Grey’s Anatomy star, has pulled a massive headstart. How massive? They’re engaged. In light of this surprise, and to add fuel to the fire, Hannah asks him to be her maid of honour, which springs good questions about his sexuality. The comedy part of the film comes from Tom’s malevolent attempt at breaking the couple up, and yet again, the romance part does not convince me as steadfastly.
In the first few scenes, Made of Honour sets up the romantic interest instantly. One could argue that it’s straightforward, but it also means that the journey from point A to point B is just comedic reliefs. The only times Tom and Hannah “look deeply into each other’s eyes and fall in love”, are in the last third of the film, in Scotland. Two things: critical money shots like these no longer impact the audience as much, and who the hell falls in love in Scotland?
Why Colin played as such a cringe overlord is beyond me. Realistically, there is no reason to demean the guy just to promote Tom as the more appealing man. A lot of Hannah’s awkward moments with Colin, can be settled for mere cultural differences. After making out in a Scottish pub, Hannah suddenly becomes woke and realizes that Tom is who she has always loved. It feels a little too convenient to end the film, but that’s love I guess.
To spoil the mood further, there are critics suggesting that the humour in Made of Honour is just average, a testament of all rom-coms really. Personally, I found no issue with it. I like the film for its segments, and although the film fails on the romantic front, it earns a B for its circumstantial comedy. Maybe if it was purely a comedy film, where the heroic gay Tom rescues Hannah from her smothering fiancé, that would be cause for a better shot at being remembered amongst the comedy films. It is like a 100-minute rendition of Harvey Specter and Donna Paulsen from Suits’ love story, but immature and needing more emotional fortitude.