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Friday Film Review: My Best Friend’s Wedding

My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Grade B+

Let me be honest and say that Julia Roberts is not my favorite actress. I like her in “Steel Magnolias,” loved her in “Erin Brockovich” but beyond that, not so much. And make it a double if it’s a chick flick. So when “My Best Friend’s Wedding” was released, I didn’t see it. Nor did I make any effort to in the years that followed. That is until I started doing these reviews and checked out a few “Top romances” and “best romances” lists. This film kept making the lists. Finally I caved and clicked on it at Netflix and it was here that I read the Roger Ebert review that changed my mind about watching it.

Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) and Michael O’Neal (Dermot Mulroney) are two people who’ve been best friends since college. He’s always been her standby, the man she thought she could fall back on if, and when, her romantic relationships failed. But one night he stuns her with a phone call and tells her he’s fallen in love and is getting married to Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz). He wants Julianne to be there at the wedding, hence the title of the film.

Julianne is rocked back by the news. She’s always loved him but never thought she was in love with him. Until now when she realizes all she stands to lose. So Julianne decides to make her move but will it get her what she wants?

What I love about the film is how it turns so many of the standard chick flick moves on their heads. Just when I thought I’d get the kind of silly movie that Julia Roberts seems to specialize in, there was something different, something deeper. Standard plot lines that I’ve rolled my eyes at and fast forwarded through took new and unusual directions. The director, PJ Hogan, surprised me and I love that in a film.

Yes, we get scenes of Julianne plotting and scheming to break up the wedding but things don’t go according to plan. And far from being the usual clueless morons upon whom the main character works her wiles as we, the viewers, groan and shout to the screen, “How can you not see what she’s doing?!” Kimmy and Michael are surprisingly astute at several times about what is going on. Not always, of course, or the whole movie would be over quickly but enough so that they don’t come off as idiots.

And then there’s the question of who will end up getting Michael. Does Julianne win the day or are Michael and Kimmy the ones to walk back down the aisle. For the few of you who haven’t seen the film, I won’t ruin the surprise but suffice it to say that the best woman wins.

There are several scenes in the film that linger pleasantly in my memory. I’ll never be able to hear Dionne Warwick sing “Say a Little Prayer” and not think of giant crab claws waving in the background. Ditto when I hear “Annie’s Song” and think of chipmunks singing under balloons. And then there are the many times that Julianne calls her editor, George, to loudly complain about how things are going and to beg his advice and help – all of which are overheard by the people he’s with at the time. Oh, and the catfight scene in the women’s bathroom of Comiskey Park.

No, I haven’t been magically converted into a rabid Julia Roberts fan based on this one film but I am very glad I decided to give it a chance.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

23 Comments

  1. library addict
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 04:54:13

    I saw this film in the theatre when it came out. I usually like Julia Roberts. But although I liked the plot for the same reasons you mentioned, I didn't feel Dermot Mulroney was right for his role at all. He had no chemistry with either Julia Roberts or Cameron Diaz.

    For me, Rupert Everett totally steals the film. And for his performance alone I would recommend the movie – LOL.

    And Susan Sullivan as Kimmy’s mother is quite funny as well.

  2. Jayne
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 05:23:36

    Rupert Everett is the bomb. The two bitchy cousins from Nashville are fun too.

  3. Ros
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 05:37:00

    I love the way Cameron Diaz is never afraid to make a fool of herself on camera. The scene where she is made to do karaoke is one of my favourites. Also ‘Say a Little Prayer’. Basically, I just love that this is really a musical, with jokes. And Rupert Everett. What more could anyone want from a film?

  4. Jayne
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 05:46:49

    I love the way Cameron Diaz is never afraid to make a fool of herself on camera. The scene where she is made to do karaoke is one of my favourites.

    Yep, she’s gonna do what it takes to keep her man and keeps managing to turn the tables on all Julia Roberts’ attempts to make her look foolish. Yeah, so she can’t sing worth a damn, but she’ll get up and sing alove song to Mulroney anyway. Loved that scene too.

  5. Jayne
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 05:49:01

    OMG! Can’t believe I forgot to mention “Wedding Do’s and Don’ts- Helpful Hints for the Soon-to-Be-Wed” on the special features part of the DVD. Hilariously funny.

  6. AnotherLori
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 07:27:44

    This was never one of my favorite movies but I liked the way it portrayed the women and was willing to show that neither was a bad girl or undeserving of love. But without Rupert Everett it just never would have had any true verve.

  7. votermom
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 07:39:50

    I just love Rupert’s last line in the movie: “And by God, there will be dancing.”
    He totally stole the show.
    (Did I remember it right?)

  8. Jayne
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 07:42:06

    Yes, yes! That’s his last line.

  9. Anon76
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 08:28:43

    Dermot did nothing for me at all. But maybe he wasn’t supposed to. Dunno. His character just seemed so flat when compared to the rest of the cast.

    And Rupert?????? He is the one reason I watch this movie over and over again. While I understand the writer and director had much to do with the dialogue and scenes, Rupert just nailed that role. So suave and debonair and…tongue firmly in cheek.

  10. Keishon
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 09:08:14

    Let me be honest and say that Julia Roberts is not my favorite actress. I like her in “Steel Magnolias,” loved her in “Erin Brockovich” but beyond that, not so much.

    That says it for me, too, but I loved this film, like you did and rewatch it a lot, too. Turns out that Julia Roberts was the bad buy especially when she sends that out that email that she knows will kill the wedding plans. Very good movie.

    Took out spoiler. Sorry!

  11. daisy
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 09:14:33

    I thought I was the only person in the whole world who did not get Julia Robert’s appeal. There is just something about her that I find unpleasant to watch – except for this film and Steel Magnolia’s.
    Love this movie – it is just one of those feel good, fun romps that is a nice, easy way to spend an evening or a Saturday afternoon.

  12. Jayne
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 09:20:14

    I thought I was the only person in the whole world who did not get Julia Robert's appeal. There is just something about her that I find unpleasant to watch

    It just seems like in most of her movies, she has this “everyone loves me” vibe going. She didn’t have it in “Brockovich” which is one of the reasons I love that film.

  13. Connie
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 12:33:55

    what?! you don’t love her in Pretty Woman :P
    I do agree her other movies are often misses for me but the ones I think she is good in I really like it. For this movie I like the fact that she was really trying to get her man while pretending to be the bride’s best friend. And I love even more that the director didn’t set her up with someone (really) to make it a super happy ending.

    May I say that I like Cameron Diaz more and more now that she’s more choosy with the roles she is in.

  14. Scarlett
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 13:17:48

    I like a lot of Julia Roberts movies (far from all though), but this one is a special delight for all the reasons you mention.

    I especially like how her character is allowed to do some truly awful things to her supposed “best friend.” So many of these movies make the lead character a total Mary Sue goody two-shoes, but here she was actually the *gasp* villain, but was still likable and understandable. (And yes, the Best Woman does win in in the end, another reason to like this one because the whole movie I thought it would go the other way and it was going to be an awful ending.)

    Rachel Griffiths is hilarious in her small role as one of the bitch cousins.

    The one big negative is the dull-as-dirt Dermot Mulroney — these two fabulous women are fighting over him? Him?? Yeah, so not worth the trouble. Rupert Everett, otoh, is the scene stealer.

  15. Jayne
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 15:01:51

    May I say that I like Cameron Diaz more and more now that she's more choosy with the roles she is in.

    This and “In Her Shoes” are the only movies I’ve seen with Diaz (physically) in them. I love Shrek but that’s only her voice.

  16. Jayne
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 15:46:20

    The one big negative is the dull-as-dirt Dermot Mulroney -’ these two fabulous women are fighting over him? Him?? Yeah, so not worth the trouble. Rupert Everett, otoh, is the scene stealer.

    LOL. Love the early scene just after Julia Roberts’ character gets to Chicago and she and Diaz are cataloging all his faults: sucking soup through his teeth, the snore…

    And I would so jump Rupert Everett if he wasn’t Gay.

  17. Anon76
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 17:11:50

    Jayne said:

    “And I would so jump Rupert Everett if he wasn't Gay.”

    Amen to that!

    I had a helluva time as I wished that Rupert’s character would be the one Julia’s character actually loved. But no, he is gay. And honestly, the Julia character wouldn’t have deserved him anyhoo.

  18. Jennie
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 18:11:32

    For the longest time I always said Rupert Everett was the only gay guy I was attracted to – not that I have a problem with a guy being gay but somehow knowing a guy is gay usually makes me not see him “that way”. Of course now, I’d have to add Anderson Cooper to that list (and maybe take Rupert off; IIRC, he’s had some bad plastic surgery over the years and looks kinda funky).

    I don’t remember this movie well but I remember not liking Julia Roberts’ character for her behavior. I generally like Dermot Mulroney a lot so maybe I saw it for him. I remember Cameron Diaz being really cute and I was glad she didn’t get thrown over for Julia in the end.

    Count me as another person who is ambivalent on Roberts. I really like her when she’s tough but with a vulnerable core, as in “Erin Brockovich”, “Mystic Pizza” and “Dying Young”. I don’t particularly like her when she’s all, “look how cute I am!” as in “Pretty Woman”. And I loathe her when she is “serious” – she is so sour and angry that she’s really unattractive. Examples: “Closer”, “Ocean’s 11″ – in both cases she is the object of affection for two men, which makes it even more annoying because I don’t know why even one would want her.

  19. Evangeline
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 19:18:30

    I never understood why this was a “romantic comedy”–and why Julia Roberts’ career as “America’s Sweetheart” was revived by this film, where she portrayed a selfish, vindictive person. Not to say I didn’t enjoy Jules’ selfishness (how often do you see that in rom coms or even the romance genre?), but I’m still baffled by the hazy glow in which people remember this movie. It’s more the anti-romantic comedy in that a character who would typically be The Other Woman is the heroine, and the character who would typically be the heroine was The Other Woman. Pretty subversive, especially the fact that Jules ends up alone but wiser, and more accepting of herself.

  20. Janine
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 19:58:29

    For me “My Best Friend’s Wedding” was more a C+ or B-. I just didn’t love Julia Roberts’ character so I couldn’t care much about whether she got the guy. I agree though that Rupert Everett was wonderful. I also loved him in “The Ideal Husband,” which is a better movie IMO.

  21. Jayne
    Sep 19, 2009 @ 03:11:56

    It's more the anti-romantic comedy in that a character who would typically be The Other Woman is the heroine, and the character who would typically be the heroine was The Other Woman. Pretty subversive, especially the fact that Jules ends up alone but wiser, and more accepting of herself.

    Exactly! And that’s why I like it. If she had gotten the guy – or any guy – (and I heard both endings were filmed and tested with audiences), I would have been disappointed. She didn’t deserve the guy, not after all she had done. But maybe after all she’s learned, she’s edging towards the point when she might be ready for one in the future.

  22. Janine
    Sep 19, 2009 @ 09:32:18

    I suppose it could be called subversive but IMO even selfish and vindictive protagonists should have some depth, a good quality or two, to make us invested in their fate. I don’t recall anything like that about this character. I think I felt that it the fact that she was played by Julia Roberts and that Rupert Everett’s character cared about her was somehow magically suppose to make me care, but it didn’t. I think I left the theater feeling that if one was to take Rupert Everett out of this movie, what would be left would not be worth watching.

  23. XandraG
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 21:55:38

    I’m with @Janine and the others who went, “WTF?” with Dermot Mulroney. That, and the idea that Julia Roberts’ character had a chance with the groom, when she and the bride-to-be were so radically different that it seemed obvious that any man attracted to one of them would find the other completely meh.

    As a romance, I didn’t care for this one at all. As a “personal growth experience for selfish main character,” it does much better.

    And yes, Rupert Everett steals the show.

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