ninth symphony films - movie reviews

SWEET HOME ALABAMA (2002)


DIRECTOR  -  andy tennant

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  romantic comedy

LENGTH  -  102 minutes

RELEASED  -  27 september 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  touchstone pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  sweet home alabama

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $30,000,000
sweet home alabama - a shot from the film

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buy the dvd from sweet home alabama at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
a young woman with a white trash background runs away from her husband in alabama and reinvents herself as a new york socialite.




MOVIE FACT:
this movie was originally called "melanie's getting married."


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from sweet home alabama

picture from sweet home alabama

picture from sweet home alabama



RATING:


two out of four possible stars

Reese Witherspoon may very well be trying to create a genre all her own. She could soon replace Meg Ryan as the reigning queen of the romantic comedy. And while some of her efforts are more impressive than others, Sweet Home Alabama is not a film worth Reese Witherspoon's talents. Although Reece plays her character, "Melanie," very well, there is not a lot left to the imagination. For reasons unknown, the persons responsible for editing together the trailer decided it was necessary to place every comedic moment in the movie into that two and a half minute preview.

There are literally only a handful of moments that are funny and aren't included in the trailer. And every one of those instances involves supporting actors. The standout performance in this film belongs to Ethan Embry. Not even featured in the trailer, Embry combines physical comedy with verbal jibes and makes his character one of the most vibrant of the film. Reece has a lot of chemistry with Embry's "Bobby Ray," like they were friends off screen as well as on. And that sentiment echoes throughout the film as the "gang" that surrounds Reese's character while she's in Alabama, has a good vibe.

Though the comedy might not have been top of the line, the casting was well planned. An interesting touch to the screenplay, and something that probably compliments the casting, was the way the screenplay did not make a "bad guy" out of any of the characters. Though it was easy to harbor some hatred for Candice Bergen's character, the mayor of New York City, there was no one who was particularly evil. Reese's character's dilemma of having to choose between Patrick Dempsey's citified New Yorker character and Josh Lucas's Alabama country boy was made stronger because neither of the men was easy to hate.

Making Reese's decision harder than a simple black and white, or good and bad scenario, made the film much lighter in tone as well. As is a hallmark of romantic comedies, the comedy usually always takes precedence over whatever dramatics might appear on screen. But Alabama has some very definite Kleenex scenes and Reese Witherspoon proves that she doesn't need the assistance of a good editor to bring some emotion to her character and to the screen. During one particularly touching scene near the middle of the film, she has a conversation with a deceased pet dog. While she speaks, the camera never moves or cuts away and seeing the transformation that Reece puts her character through is one of the high points of the film.

Other high points include the rest of the supporting cast. Fred Ward and Mary Kay Place, who play Reece's parents, and New Zealander Melanie Lynskey, who plays an old friend, bring color and life to the screen, even if they don't always have enough to say. That idea could extend to the entire cast. Although every character had at least one entertaining line, the film still could have been filled with more surprises or misdirection to keep the audience thinking. A very standard screenplay that adhered to all the basic rules of its genre and to Hollywood filmmaking didn't allow for a great deal of ingenuity on the screen.

Elements such as the soundtrack and the cinematography can only be described as "standard," and even though they were by no means bad, they were still too close to average. It is hard to criticize a film which isn't a horrible sight on the screen, and yet it isn't a simple job to compliment Sweet Home Alabama either. But in defense of criticizing what many people might think of as a sweet and funny Reese Witherspoon film, knowing that she has proven herself more capable in past films, perhaps this film could be described as the wrong people coming together at the right time. It's a nice idea, but it doesn't play out so expertly on screen.

And while it would be unfair to call this film unentertaining, it still could have benefited from a firmer hand in the editing room. For the trailer. Some films are entertaining even after they've been seen a hundred times, but when an audience has heard the words, "and look at you! You've got a baby! In a bar!" a thousand times in advertisements for the film, the comic impact is lessened considerably. And that sentiment echoes throughout the entire movie, as the film is not affecting enough to warrant a high recommendation. This movie has its moments, but with so much talent present in front of the camera, Sweet Home Alabama should have packed more intelligence into its two hours.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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