Sweet Home Alabama
The plot in a nutshell
Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) is a young, rising star as a fashion designer
in New York. On the brink of success, her boyfriend who also happens to be the Mayor's
son, proposes. She says yes, but has one minor problem - a husband back in small town
Alabama that none of her big city friends knows about. She rushes back to get the divorce finalized, but her heart belongs to her one true love, and the simple life
she left behind.
Relatively Spoiler Free Thoughts
I like romantic comedies. Unlike many men, I don't discount a movie simply because
it screams 'chick flick'. Films like Notting Hill and You've Got Mail are fine
examples of a romantic comedy that clicks.
I also like Reese Witherspoon. Too bad that neither her talent or the premise
of the romantic comedy is given much of a chance in this movie. The film starts
off well, with a nice little 'lightening never strikes the same place twice'
symbolism, but then falls flatter than a IHOP in an earthquake.
The biggest mistake of the film is that it never gives us any good reason why
she ends up back with true love number 1. He's not a particularly great guy,
although there are a couple scenes thrown in to show he's not as bad as the rednecks around him. On the other hand, her jilted fiance comes off as a saint -
not only is his proposal every woman's dream, but he's considerate, sweet, and understanding through her entire ordeal. Explain to me again why she's
going back to the loud mouthed jackass with the hound dog?
Speaking of hound dogs, the death of one is the only real scene in which we get to see some true emotion out of Witherspoon's character, but it's not enough
to keep the film interesting.
Perhaps the film fails not just because the hillbilly husband is so bland, but because
we're never shown any reason why Witherspoon's character would want to give up the
rest of her New York life. She never shows any real dissatisfaction with her life,
which she's worked so hard to obtain, yet we're expected to believe she's ready to
throw it all away for her one true love that she hasn't spoken to in 7
Candice Bergen, as the Mayor of New York and the mother-in-law to be, is the one
bright spot in the film. It's not that she's playing something outside her range, and you might forget you're not watching Murphy Brown when she's on screen.
Still, the best humor in the film comes from her character, and while she's not
particularly likable, she doesn't play the part so over the top as to be unbelievable.
The story is a fairly tired one, with nothing new or different to breathe life into
the genre. In the end it's a romantic comedy without much comedy, and even less romance.
Watch the alternate ending if you get time - it's very interesting to see what
the test audiences thought.
Rating - Skip It.
Two weeks in a row I get a dull movie. Let's hope this doesn't continue!
If you're looking for something romantic for Valentine's Day, skip this one and grab anything with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Even Joe Versus the Volcano is
better than this.
Spoiler Laden Thoughts
So let's talk about the plot in slightly greater detail...
I already ruined it for you, I know. I went and told you which man she ends
up with. If that's a surprise for you, you've never watched this tired formula
I really did find the alternate ending, and the test audiences reaction to it,
fascinating. Having the lightening act as a bookend to the story should have been more fully explored, and I think that although the first ending was
simply to mean spirited, they could have come up with something that would have
tied it all together. The lightening was crucial to their relationship, and
could have been used a little more to better effect.
Gee, there's not much to spoil here - I think that's always a bad sign.