Put the Ticket Down and Back Away From the Cinema
My Best Friend's Wedding
By Angie Drobnic
There's a small school of thought in Hollywood that says in a summer full of action-action-action, a clever, cute romantic comedy should be just what moviegoers want to spend their money on for a nice break. However, being neither cute, clever nor comedic, and only marginally romantic, My Best Friend's Wedding is a film I would certainly never want--ever. Its flaws are numerous, and its one redeeming quality is the interestingly twisted and warped assumptions that carry the plot forward.
Forget about character development. In the first 10 minutes of the film we meet the beautiful charmer Julianne (Julia Roberts) who instantly finds out her best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) is getting married. She realizes she loves him and jets off to sabotage the wedding. There she meet his bride, beautiful charmer Kimmy (Cameron Diaz). We never really find out why Michael is so fabulous that these two beautiful charmers need him more than life itself. We just know he's a sports writer and travels a lot to cover all those gosh-darn interesting games. Oh boy. As the minutes drag by, we come to understand that Julianne/Julia is psychotic in her devotion to Michael and will do anything to get him, including embarrassing Kimmy at a karaoke bar (horrors!) and lying a whole bunch. We also come to understand that Kimmy/Cam-eron is psychotic in her devotion to Michael and will do anything to keep him, including dropping out of college and giving up her career. That part actually is horrific, and disturbingly enough, the "I'll give up my life for you" move seems to get old Cameron the goods.
At this point in the movie, I tried to entertain myself by imagining that My Best Friend's Wedding was an avant-garde experimental art movie--Julia and Cameron are really the same woman, I'll bet, who suffers from split personality! Each side represents the different obsessive desires of one woman! But no. The movie actually wants us to identify with and like these ridiculous stereotypes of smart women driven insane by love. Because after all, it's funny, right? It's a comedy, right?
Well, people fall down a lot for no reason, and that's supposed to make us laugh. Julia's furrowed brow and bitten lip, the fact that the most beautiful woman in the world is struggling to get her man--that's supposed to be funny, too. Hur. Fortunately, solidly halfway through the film, unexpected relief comes from Julia's friend George (Rupert Everett). George is gay, you see, but Julia decides to pretend that he's her fiance in order to make Michael jealous. That part is predictable and dumb. But George has some fun being dragged into the farce by telling everyone he met Julia in an insane asylum. (The split personality theory revives itself briefly, but then falters and dies.) He leads everyone in a group sing along of "I Say a Little Prayer." That's kind of funny. But it can't and doesn't last.
We get more of Julia being crafty and nefarious, to no avail. OK, I'm going to spoil it: She doesn't get the guy. Boo hoo. It's slightly unpredictable because, after all, Julia Roberts plays the character, but very predictable because crime, even in the name of love, just doesn't pay. At least in the movies. In closing, I'll just say that Cameron Diaz was pretty good at playing her simperingly stupid character. And the guy who directed it, P.J. Hogan, also directed Muriel's Wedding, which was about a million times funnier than this. I guess he's having a sophomore slump. I can only wail into the night: Why, oh why, does Hollywood pump out this kind of dreck?
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