My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
Genre: Comedy, Romance
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.