Wednesday 30 December 2020

Movie Review: Made Of Honour (2008)

A romantic comedy, Made Of Honour adopts the guy's point of view and provides amiable laughs in a story of friendship evolving into love.

Serial womanizer Tom (Patrick Dempsey) met art history student Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) in college, and she refused to sleep with him. They became best friends instead. Ten years later Tom is rich thanks to his coffee cup collar invention and Hannah is working at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. She heads off on a 6 week business trip to Scotland and he realizes how much he misses her. 

Ready to profess his love upon her return, he is shocked to find her engaged to Colin McMurray (Kevin McKidd), a wealthy Scottish aristocrat from a distinguished whiskey-making family. Hannah wants Tom to be her maid of honour at the upcoming wedding, and he is torn between providing support and trying to win her heart.

A companion piece to 1997's atrocious My Best Friend's Wedding, Made Of Honour flips that script and improves upon it. While the rom-com predictabilities and moments of cringiness are evident, here the fundamentals of the friendship between Tom and Hannah are sturdy. Director Paul Weiland takes the time to build genuine warmth between the two lead characters as Tom spends his one quality day a week with Hannah, as a break from bedding a series of other women he will never care for.

Also working in the plot's favour is Tom's character. Yes he is initially a commitment-phobe and serial gigolo, but after one misadventure he quickly moves away from any mean intentions towards Hannah's wedding arrangements. Instead he deploys kindness as a sneaky tactic, providing the film with a worthy protagonist and the necessary pretext for the predetermined ending. Patrick Dempsey is comfortable eliciting sympathy as the leading man, and Michelle Monaghan gives Hannah a welcome grounding.

Weiland surrounds the lovers-to-be with a colourful group of supporting characters to provide the laughs and distractions. Hannah's other bridesmaids are a mishmash of accidents waiting to happen. Tom's father (Sydney Pollack) marries and divorces gold diggers on a quarterly basis, while his basketball buddy group (including Chris Messina) struggle to find appropriate advice for their suddenly love-struck friend. A Napoleon Dynamite-type gym hanger-on is a good example of the film's sometimes warped sense of humour.

The final act unfolds in rural Scotland and provides a change of scenery from more typical genre locations. Made Of Honour attempts some creativity, and earns if not an honourable mention then at least a passing grade.

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