FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| John Sturges |||
John Sturges

Helming the “Magnificent Seven” should be reason enough, demonstrating that Sturges had the happy talent of taking what was considered strictly “male” oriented stories and making them sexy enough and humorous enough to appeal to female movie-goer as well.

Sturges takes this star-studded gunslinger film based on the Japanese favorite "The Seven Samurai", and makes it a bone fide all-American classic featuring Yul Brynner. At the request of Mexican peasants, Brynner recruits a band of fellow mercenaries, half of whom Sturges introduces as the next generation of action film super-stars including Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Steve McQueen. Widescreen!

Sturges is responsible for what is renowned as one of the greatest war films ever made, featuring Steve McQueen and his unforgettably daring motorcycle jumps in the face of the enemy. Allied prisoners escape from a German POW camp in this superior effort, noted for a brilliant international cast and Elmer Bernstein's triumphant score. Widescreen!

This day in the life of a stranger in an isolated town has since been done to death, and this is why. In the hands of a lesser director the talents of this exceedingly manly cast (Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan) would otherwise overwhelm this compelling drama with a prejudice theme, but Sturges is able to maintain a firm grasp of the reigns, keeping his actors this side of mellow drama. Widescreen!

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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The Wedding Date

By BrianOrndorf

February 3rd, 2005

“The Wedding Date” is the type of romantic comedy drivel that makes you hate to fall in love. The film is an absolute mess, due to both complicated source material and an obvious last-minute editing frenzy that stripped the film of any sense. Detest your significant other? Take them to see this garbage.


After deciding to travel to England to attend her sister's wedding, Kat (Debra Messing, "Will & Grace") frantically hires a male escort, Nick (Dermot Mulroney), to help her look good in front of her family and her ex-fiancée. Uncomfortable with each other at first, Nick and Kat are thrust into one awkward social situation after another, sparking an attraction that goes directly against their business relationship.

"The Wedding Date" opens with The Corrs' wildly overexposed hit, "Breathless," singling that the feature film starting to unwind will be a softball, undemanding experience. However, "Date" becomes far worse. Surprisingly adapted from a novel, "Date" is saccharine, uninspired entertainment, eventual collapsing into a flat-out mess.

Because the material was presented in a relaxed, narratively luxurious literary format before, screenwriter Dana Fox has a devil of a time wrestling the tale to the ground and forming something consistent out of the many plot threads that dangle during the course of the bloated story. "Date" appears to have been the unfortunate victim of a last minute editing hatchet job, for over the course of a measly 80 minutes, not one single backstory, motivation, or performance is seen to its natural conclusion. "Date" is a nonstop series of weird jumps in time and logic, using the stars of the film to keep attention off the fact that nothing in the movie makes a lick of sense. There's an uneasy tension between Kat and her family that is never properly explored, Nick and Kat's relationship pinballs around constantly between love and hate (never really settling on either one), not to mention that the two BARELY know each other before Nick's all gooey for this stranger he's PAID to be with (shades of "Pretty Woman," and just as icky). There's also a horde of idiotic romantic comedy clichés that director Clare Kilner ("How to Deal") employs to stitch the mess together, including a deplorable British "Absolutely Fabulous" rip-off character as Kat's "worldly" best friend. This material only serves to make the film even more of an endurance test with its lack of imagination and self-esteem.

"Date" doesn't take television actress Debra Messing far away enough from the small screen, here handing her another safe, sitcom comedy role. Nevertheless, Messing isn't even up to challenging those minor requirements. She fusses about as Kat, wrinkling her nose and trying to make this material pop off the screen, but it looks like a lot of labor for little results. She isn't helped by the 180 pounds of driftwood also known as Dermont Mulroney, who doesn't hide his "I'd rather be doing an indie film" frown as he slugs his way through an embarrassing "dream guy" role, complete with gratuitous butt shot and ideal romantic philosophies. The leads stand and deliver, but I'm thinking the original screenplay once held the rounded characters they insist they're portraying.

Romantic comedy isn't the toughest genre to tackle (the wedding setting is even more of a gimme), which makes the disturbingly unlikable "Wedding Date" even more of a trainwreck. All it had to do was be sweet, be simple, and be gentle. Instead, the endless amount of bad film-making choices found here just makes you want to exit the theater screaming.

My rating: D-