Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

709It seems lately, Reese Witherspoon is vying for the queen of romantic comedy throne since Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan have somewhat taken a departure over the past four years and I welcome her. Reese Witherspoon showed promise as an actress in critically acclaimed movies like “Highway”, and “Election” and starred in one of my favorites “Cruel Intentions”. She has a knack for the soft and mushy movies, never really taking anything that’s really deep and emotionally driven. She has a flair for acting and takes this character head on. Originally offered to Charlize Theron, Witherspoon makes her character very likeable and charming. The movie starts off with a weird opener setting the stages for the entire movie and then we fast forward into her adult years. I’m not one for watching “chick flicks” which is what this movie would be classified under, but this is rather charming.

Witherspoon makes this movie light and fluffy and her nonchalant swagger makes her character very interesting. Josh Lucas who played the bad guy in ‘The Hulk”, and was pretty damn good at it, gives a great performance as Melanie’s love interest throughout the entire flick. He has a very real charisma through the movie and often times his Southern accent stays with him, never disappearing as Witherspoon’s does throughout the flick. He has a very “every man” quality in this performance and often wonder if the pauper will win the princesses heart; even I rooted for him. The story itself is pretty basic: woman who put her past behind her, comes back to it to find it’s not so bad after all and must choose which life she wants. Sounds exhausting, but it’s not, which is a plus for this, because all this movie is fluff and it practically spews old fashioned sensibilities about family, love, and life.

This movie may spew old fashioned sensibilities but does it have to go about in such a cliché and predictable manner? The entire setting for the Southern town in which Witherspoon’s character originates is such an overused storyline for Southern towns. No one has a television in sight, everyone has a house that resembles a shack, everyone speaks old South lingo that makes them sound like a prospector, everyone eats at the local diner, and everyone hangs out at the local bar. Each character is a cardboard caricature of a Southern citizen, so much to a degree where you can guess who is coming next onto the story. It goes as far as to feature every one in the town as Civil War re-enactors! Sheesh. Josh Lucas’ character is the typical southern man one would find in these types of movies in that setting: he’s a beer drinking womanizer who owns a hound dog and hangs out at the bar; at any minutes I was expecting to see a boy with a banjo sitting on a porch.

The only interesting character out of the supporting cast was Ethan Embry’s who hides a secret from everyone about his hidden sexuality. The movie is also very cheesy, especially in the finale. There’s a horrible wedding scene where we already know who she’ll choose, and there’s a some badly written and sappy monologues between many of the characters. The writers for this film throw in every type of overused and predictable romantic movie device including the begging questions of which man the main character will choose, a villain, and the obligatory wedding.

For a New York Fashion Designer it’s weird to think she’d want to have her reception at the local bar. Patrick Dempsey doesn’t do much in the movie except act as an obstacle and we never really cared for him or felt for him when he was fighting for her love. For a movie in which Witherspoon’s character is supposed to choose from two guys, only one guy is truly focused on. Candice Bergen also doesn’t do much regarding she’s the movie’s villainess; I wanted to feel more threatened by her but never got the chance. The ending is your usual wedding movie ending with little to no originality and a whole lot of sappy clichés including an end credits photo montage. Despite the fact that this is a formulaic, sappy, and cheesy romance, this is also a great date flick and a very charming, well acted movie. Witherspoon can take almost any oblivious film and make it half decent.