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Thursday, 15 September 2016

Retro Review: My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)

My Best Friend's Wedding
Cast: Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz, Dermot Mulroney, Rupert Everett
Genre: Romantic Comedy 
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $299 million 

Plot: Childhood friends Julianne Porter (Julia Roberts) and Michael O'Neal (Dermot Mulroney) had a deal to marry each other if they were still single by the age of 28. Now, 4 days before her 28th birthday, Michael announces he is marrying a gorgeous 20-yr-old named Kimberly (Cameron Diaz). Suddenly realising that she's actually in love with him, Julianne vows to stop the wedding at all costs. However, when she is appointed maid of honour, things get even more complex

' Far From Charming Rom-Com, Is Not One Of My Absolute Favourites From Julia Roberts'

I usually am not a big rom-com fan, as I have stated many times over on this blog, but Julia Roberts is actually rather good in this movie as the competitive food writer best friend, who finds out the guy she had been waiting to get married to, is actually getting married to another woman. In fact, at times she had a very charming presence as her character and I felt for Julianne during the opening of the movie when her childhood sweetheart called her and told her he is getting married to her. But then, Julianne descends into heel-face turn mode & becomes a bit of an alpha b**** & acting desperate and selfish. 

And though it is a rom-com, she plays against type here: catty, sarcastic, egotistical at times. But she was also witty, amusing and displaying her humourous side. Julia Roberts herself is one of the queens of rom-coms: as much as I'm not keen on her rom-com films, but for America's Sweethearts. She manages to radiate a sparkle or star glow that lights up the screen as a performer, whenever she appears. Although her film choices and roles come into conflict with her acting talents, because clearly, she is highly talented - yet the vast majority of the movies she stars in & roles she undertakes, do not do justice to her potential and in being a first-class performer that she ultimately is. 

It's a shame. 

Julia is not just a pretty face but talented: amusing, funny, whimsical in places but also showing her soft and romantic side - and not to mention with this effort, her wicked side as anti-heroine/pro-antagonist, Julianne. One could say her antics are almost borderline of that of Glenn Close's bunny-boiler character from Fatal Attraction. This is one rom-com movie where Julia plays the antagonist role.

This is an unconventional romantic comedy that operates somewhat like a screwball comedy and the plot is centred around Julianne's s**t-shaming & under-handed attempts at sabotaging the wedding and in breaking up the wedding, - which backfires. An idea which I liked. Sort of. Cameron Diaz plays the annoying but nice girlie, Kimberly that has Michael's (Dermot Mulroney) affections. She is the nice, perky, ditzy rich girl compared to Julianne's brash, at times in-yer-face attitude. Although her karaoke singing in this film leaves a lot to be desired. Talk about cringe-inducing, I was wincing during that scene. Dermot Mulroney was miscast as Julianne's ex, his performance was somewhat pedestrian, unappealing and was weak: I didn't see him as an ideal love interest for either Julia Roberts or Cameron Diaz. They ought to have roped in someone else in his place because he just didn't make a convincing, nor very compelling male romantic lead. He is just not romantic male love interest material and I didn't buy Mulroney and Roberts would-be relationship. 

Although really the film pretty much emphasises on the 2 female characters more so than on Michael. Rupert Everett as Julianne's best friend is the voice of reason whenever she goes a bit far-fetched. He is also a bit bonkers when he breaks into the Aretha Franklin song 'Say a Little Prayer'. Both he and Julia Roberts make this movie in all honesty, as the rest of the performances were subpar at best, the remaining characters are a bore and the movie itself is 'meh' in places. There is barely any genuine chemistry between any of the characters and yet there is the craziness and silliness that takes place that evokes familiarity to that of the Australian rom-com, Muriel's Wedding. 

The movie does have the odd F-bomb, which was rather unnecessary and completely out of place for a comedy of this type, especially in a romantic comedy. Why it was in this movie is baffling and thus far, it didn't need to be in the script. As for the opening credits, it was too weird with the bridal group singing some 1950s song, it was very barbershop-quartet like that some people will find either interesting or extremely irritating. 

Towards the end of the movie, Julianne eventually realises that she has gone too far with her schemes, that the best thing to do is to finally let go and put his happiness above hers by letting Michael get married. The conclusion was nice.  

Written by Ronald Bass whose credits include Sleeping with the Enemy, The Joy Luck Club, Dangerous Minds and Waiting to Exhale, what saves My Best Friend's Wedding from sheer mediocrity are the performances by Roberts and Everett and that it is a screwball comedy, as opposed to a traditional rom-com. The script itself isn't particularly noteworthy or much to write home about. It is not a heartwarming romantic comedy, nor a typical Julia Roberts rom-com vehicle one might expect and neither does it have any real profounding meaning to it. But aside from all of that, it certainly has some qualities that make it stand out from its other similar efforts. The Jello vs Creme Brulee conversation was slightly amusing. 

It's supposed to be nice, fluffy, romantic and sweet - instead, it's a tale about people at their worst, resorting to desperate measures & even under-handed, manipulative tactics that are far from wholesome. And not the stuff rom-coms are made of. 

It has its moments, but as a whole, in watching My Best Friend's Wedding, this is far from the hit that it was back in 1997. Yet I can't deny that was watchable and entertaining at times, courtesy of Roberts and Everett. 


Pros +

- Unconventional rom-com not like many others before it

- Julia Roberts and Rupert Everett

- Some amusing moments

Cons -

- Dermot Mulroney did not make for a good love interest, well, for Roberts's Julianne anyway

- Sub-par movie mostly and has some moments that made me zone out and not care for them

- Muriel's Wedding - like tone and feel didn't quite work for this film

Final Verdict:

I didn't really care for Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride and Julia Roberts's other rom-com exploits, and so this movie was a bit of a surprise and a nice welcome from her usual schtick.

Paul Hogan worked wonders on Muriel's Wedding, which was wonderfully off-beat and charming, but with My Best Friend's Wedding, I could see what he was trying to do and trying to incorporate some of the things and elements that worked in that film in this one; however, this is to no avail and as a result, this one feels incomplete and not as great as it is. As it should've been. 

It is one of a number of rom-coms I find tolerable to an extent, but it is not a clear favourite of mines from Julia Roberts and it is far from being her best film, and far from it; actually, I'd opt for America's Sweethearts over her other rom-coms such as this one. My Best Friend's Wedding is not fantastic, but neither is it bad and plus, it has a few qualities that make this film redeemable. Julia is good at being bad here, although I still prefer her as the good gal in her other roles & Julianne is not very pleasant.

Without Julia Roberts's interesting turn as Julianne and Rupert Everett's antics, however, My Best Friend's Wedding would descend into, well, a rather average - or be it a forgettable movie


*score last updated: 20 December 2017*

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