Warner Bros. // 2004 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Amanda DeWees (Retired) // July 27th, 2005
The perfect wedding planner is about to step into a perfect mess.
Although sometimes it seems like the Lifetime network only makes films about women in peril, they do sometimes produce television movies at the other end of the spectrum -- lightweight escapist fare like this affable romantic comedy. I Do (But I Don't) is the close relative of other wedding-themed rom-coms, like Four Weddings and a Funeral, My Best Friend's Wedding, and especially J-Lo's The Wedding Planner.
Like the latter movie, I Do (But I Don't) takes as its heroine a wedding planner who falls in love with the groom in a wedding she's arranging. At least, that's what we (and she) think has happened, but it turns out that this is just the first of many misunderstandings that keep the heroine and hero apart until the end of the running time. Denise Richards (The World Is Not Enough) stars as Lauren Crandall, the insecure, compulsively organized wedding planner who has trust issues with men thanks to her adulterous husband, whom she is in the process of divorcing. Dean Cain (Lois and Clark) is amiable fireman Nick Corina, who is in many ways her opposite -- free-spirited, with a fondness for surprises. Along the rocky road to happy-ever-after Lauren must learn to stand up for herself -- to her mother, her harpy of a boss (Jessica Walter), and her oily soon-to-be ex-husband -- and of course make sure that the massive wedding goes off smoothly despite the lunatic tendencies of high-powered bride Darla (Karen Cliche).
The two leads have good chemistry together, perhaps a reflection of their real-life friendship; they seem to take genuine pleasure in each other's company. Even though Richards and Cain look as if they were assembled by a committee to be movie stars, with their perfect teeth and splendid physiques, they manage to come across as real people, bringing warmth and a sense of enjoyment to the film. This is definitely the most relaxed and natural I have ever seen Richards on screen; maybe she's finally found her niche. Likewise, Cain is a perfect fit as a rom-com everyman hero, with his persona of solidity, humor, and kindness. I hope that this role helps to revive his career, which has been pretty dismal since he retired his Superman cape. (I didn't say I expected it to; I just hope it will.)
The film's mood is low-key: more whimsical than funny, and more pleasant than whimsical. The screenplay, adapted from Cara Lockwood's novel, relies on established comedic components -- the flamboyant gay assistant, the boss's troublesome dog, the demanding bride -- and offers little that's original or surprising. The narration by Lauren, which structures events around the rules of wedding planning, doesn't add a great deal except to establish a friendly tone; the plot progresses steadily from one conventional situation to the next, from the meet cute to the big public reconciliation scene at the end. But that's probably enough. This isn't a film designed to change anyone's life or bring catharsis; it's just a modest, cute little escapist picture. It knows the formula, and it is comfortable sticking with it. Viewers who enjoy that formula -- and it's a popular one -- should find this agreeable entertainment.
As regards the transfer, the visual quality is strangely inconsistent. For the most part it looks fine, with a clear picture and bright, pure colors, but some shots are simply crawling with grain and other visual noise. This is probably not a reflection on the transfer but a flaw in the source material, yet it's still distracting. Audio is perfectly adequate, although the modest little musical score doesn't really exploit the 2.0 surround track.
The main surprise on this disc -- besides the revelation that Denise Richards can act -- is the depth of the 25-minute featurette, which is composed entirely of interviews with the actors, the aptly named producer Jane Goldenring, director Kelly Makin (Mickey Blue Eyes), and Cara Lockwood. It doesn't rely on the standard use of clips from the film for padding, so the entire run time is truly bonus material. Some of this material isn't exactly enthralling -- as when the stars discuss their favorite romantic comedies -- but it's impressive to get so much meat in the featurette for a film that's largely meatless. This is the kind of supplement that many a more substantial film would benefit from, as the actors discuss their character arcs, the director discloses the elements of the story that drew him to the film, and so on. The other extras are a forgettable deleted scene that introduces Lauren's sister and a compilation of trailers for other Lifetime TV movies.
Although it doesn't have the substance of an earlier Lifetime rom-com with a wedding theme, Jitters (anyone remember that one?), I Do (But I Don't) is a pleasant diversion for romantics; it would make a good rental for a girls' night in or a rainy Sunday afternoon. Fans of Denise Richards or Dean Cain may find it worth a purchase, since it represents solid work from both these actors. There's a lot more "something borrowed" than "something new" in this movie, but the union of reliable story and personable actors is a happy marriage.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Kyrgyzstani)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "A Look at I Do (But I Don't) with the Cast and Crew" Featurette
* Deleted Scene