Sweet Home Alabama
November 16, 2003
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Candice Bergen, Mary Kay Place, Fred Ward, Jean Smart, Ethan Embry, Melanie Lynskey, Courtney Gains, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Rhona Mitra, Nathan Lee Graham,
Hold on to your hats, brush down your denims, and get those cowboy boots out of the closet, cos the South is back! Yes it’s time for another movie from our friends in the Deep South, with their delightful accents and standard Rom Com fare.
Melanie Carmichael (Witherspoon) is a girl from the south who for reasons unbeknownst to us at the beginning of the film, has run away to New York to re-invent herself as ‘socialite’. She has quickly become New York’s hottest new fashion designer, and her life is looking extremely peachy – especially when Andrew Hennings (Dempsey), the Mayor’s Son and also her boyfriend, asks her to marry him in extravagant style.
Of course she accepts, but the course of true love never did run smooth, and Melanie must return to the south to clear up a few loose ends, namely her redneck husband who she married straight out of high school, and who refuses now to divorce.
But naturally, returning home is not just a literal journey but a metaphorical one as well. She gets to know herself again, and realises that the life her parents and friends lead in the south is just as comfortable as her life in New York.
As is the way in all these kinds of movies, the plot is extremely predictable, with Melanie first starting out as the bitter angry New Yorker who wants to get Jake (her husband – played by the delectable Josh Lucas) to divorce her, whilst outing one of her closest (and oldest) friends, Bobby-Ray in the meantime. Naturally, she falls in love with her childhood sweetheart, Jake, again and jilts her rich, posh city boy, Andrew for her Redneck. All together, Ahhhhh!
However, this movie is quite enjoyable, Witherspoon lights up the screen as always and does a good job of the accent (not too hard for her though as she ‘hails’ from Louisiana originally. Josh Lucas is here in his first real role as a romantic lead, and as far removed from his role in A Beautiful Mind (2001) as you can get, he is enchanting on the screen, and holds you captive with his penetratingly blue eyes. Fantastic stuff! Candice Bergen stars as the Mayor of New York, opposed to her son Andrew marrying someone like Melanie, but Kate Hennings, the Mayor, is basically a rehash of Kathy Morningside the corrupt and power hungry ex-Miss United States pageant runner from Miss Congeniality (2000).
This disc boasts several special features, namely: 8 deleted scenes, Audio Commentary by Director Andy Tennant, Alternate ending with introduction by Andy Tennant, and music video “Mine all Mine”. The deleted scenes are hardly worth watching and it is blatantly obvious, no matter how much Andy Tennant tries to tell you ‘they’re my favourite bit from the movie but we had to cut it out for pacing reasons’ don’t believe him. They’re dull, slow and would have added nothing to the film and have been justly deleted, don’t bother watching them; they’re not even funny.
The Commentary is all right as commentaries go, however it would have been nice to have some input from Ms Witherspoon, and Mr Lucas, but it’s worth a listen if you have the time or the inclination.
The Alternate Ending is not too far away from the ending as it stands, except that Jake pretends that Melanie is dead and then at the last minute she pops up, surprise, she’s ok! It’s not really a very good ending to a film, and once you see it you’ll understand why they rewrote it, the sense of deflation just as Melanie gets back together with her ‘Soul mate’ is gutting, and then for her to be ‘just joking’ totally ruins the momentum of the film. Thank god they didn’t leave it like that! Thank god for test audiences!
Just as a final note, I’d like to add that this is a great movie for a lazy Sunday afternoon, when you have little else to do and might wanna chill out with your girlie mates. Guys don’t even bother, unless of course you want to leer at Reese Witherspoon, they by all means go ahead! Nice film, standard formulaic romantic comedy, but it stills gives you a sense of well being at the end!