Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
Review Date: September 25, 2002
Director: Andy Tennant
Writer: C. Jay Cox
Producers: Neil Moritz, Stokely Chaffin
Reese Witherspoon as Melanie
Josh Lucas as Jake
Patrick Dempsey as Andrew
A sweet ol' country girl moves to the big city, makes something of herself, meets the man of her dreams and accepts his very romantic proposal of marriage. But before she can get hitched to him, she must go back to her small Southern town and convince her "ex-husband" to sign their divorce papers once and for all. Reese Witherspoon ensues.
What's a girl to do when she's caught between two "nice guys" who love her a lot and who she, in turn, loves back? A threesome is always my gut response, but in the world of non-adult Hollywood pics, the premise itself is, at the very least, an interesting one. Of course, this isn't the most original basis to a movie, but what I appreciated here was that its screenplay didn't ultimately turn one of the guys into a full-blown asshole like most others have done (yeah, it turns out there actually can be two nice guys in the world!) The decision to be taken by star Reese Witherspoon turns out to be a pretty tough one, just like it would be in real life. Do you go for the rich guy who loves you dearly and wants to give you the world, or do you choose "old faithful", the man who probably knows you better than you know yourself and the guy with whom you've experienced much of your life? Beats me...I'm just a dude with a one-handed lovelife. But premise aside, there really isn't much else happening in this movie. In fact, if it wasn't for the presence of the consistently adorable Witherspoon, the charismatic Josh Lucas (le nouveau Matthew McConaughey) and the aforementioned engaging premise, the movie's got "video rental" written all over it. I'd even go as far as to say that if you aren't a fan of the Reese-meister, there's really no pressing need for you to see this in theaters (other than the prerequisite "date" with your chickie-dee, of course). It is to note, however, that this movie does play more like a drama than a comedy, so if you're expecting LEGALLY BLONDE type humor...this one isn't gonna slap you silly.
It's more sentimental, somewhat more dramatic, and much of its "humor" is based around its secondary characters and their "goofiness", which I personally didn't find particularly amusing. What was enticing, on the other hand, was Reese as the lead, an actress who can pretty much take shit and turn it into shinola, proven here as she turns this standard screenplay into enjoyable fare with her smile alone. Josh Lucas also appears to be gearing up for the A-list with an appealing performance that almost had me wanting to marry him myself! Patrick Dempsey was also solid, and thankfully neither one of the two guys was ever transformed into a piece of shit like most of these movies (although they couldn't have made Dempsey look any more like JFK Jr. if they tried!) The film does start off a little uninspired, but things eventually pick up in the second half. As for the ending, heck, I can't say that I was particularly surprised or impressed with how everything turned out (although it's always entertaining to see a bride cold-cock a guest at her own wedding), but I suppose that if you're looking for something "easy" to watch, with decent patches of romance and a couple of laughs, you can do worse. In my case, I was also wooed by two specifics from the film, one of which was a scene featuring the lovely Ms. Witherspoon batting her baby blues under some heavy rain (she looks even cuter wet!) and the perfunctory inclusion of a rockin' tune called SWEET HOME ALABAMA, which simply kicks arse. All in all, an okay time but without the "Witherspoon factor"...pretty average fare.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian