Move over Julia and sit down Sandra, there is a new romantic comedy queen in town. That’s right, we can all get down on bended knee and hail the almighty Reese Witherspoon. One of her more recent movies, “Legally Blonde,” put her on the map and, in “Sweet Home Alabama,” Witherspoon proves that she isn’t just a one hit wonder.
“Sweet Home Alabama” is an entertaining movie that tries to fool the audience into believing that true love will prevail. I’m convinced…sort of. In the movie, Melanie Carmichael (Witherspoon) is an up-and-coming fashion designer in the Big Apple who has just gotten engaged to Andrew, the Mayor’s son (Patrick Dempsey, “Scream 3”). The catch in the whole plot comes when we realize that Melanie is still married to her high school sweetheart, Jake Perry (Josh Lucas, “A Beautiful Mind”). Melanie has to go back to her hometown of Alabama to get a divorce from him. The true heart of the movie is watching Melanie readjust to life in her hometown.
Besides Witherspoon, there is so much about this movie to praise. First, the whole North versus South dilemma is extremely funny to watch. If you’ve never been out of the city environment, you will get to see what “a simpler way of life” actually means.
Also, the supporting cast fulfills its duty to back up Witherspoon’s fun performance. For instance, Ethan Embry (“Empire Records”) gives a lovable performance as Bobby Ray, Melanie’s friend from high school. Even though the audience is supposed to want Melanie to get back together with Jake, Dempsey leaves the door open by giving his character a John F. Kennedy Jr. spin. However, Lucas makes Jake charming and adorable enough for the viewer to still want him to win her in the end. Basically, Melanie has to choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Perfect.
The one thing every movie has to have is a good script, and this movie gets it just right. While you have all the predictability of any romantic comedy, you also have a fresh yet realistic take on relationships and how they can go wrong.
Witherspoon gets it right from beginning to end. She is a veteran actress, since the days of her excellent work in “The Man in the Moon” (1991). What makes her performances so terrific is her ability to make the characters real. Witherspoon doesn’t stray from the themes of self-discovery and finding what truly makes you happy in life. Witherspoon gives the audience a great performance.
This movie reminds me of movies like “10 Things I Hate About You” or “Miss Congeniality.” “Sweet Home Alabama” is a perfect date movie or something to go see after you had the worst date of your life.