Review by Simon Bell
FOR those campaigning for Reese Witherspoon to be the next Julia Roberts,
Sweet Home Alabama couldnt be more timely. Admittedly, shes already
firmly on the Hollywood players map, but the 'sweetheart of a nation'
credentials are also now well and truly hers. (And who more deserving?)
Here, we have Reese as Melanie Carmichael, a Deep South country girl whos made it to the top in the Big Apple as a famous and respected fashion designer. Shes so perfect shes even attracted the amorous attentions of the JFK Jr-a-like (pre copter crash, naturally) son of Socialite/Democrat Mayor of New York Kate Hennings (Candice Bergen).
Hes quite flash, so hatches a scheme to get down on bended knee in Tiffanys (stay with me, its a fairy tale after all). Shes logically quite impressed, but must clear up some unfinished business back home, before cementing these new nuptials. Cue trip home to Alabama to secure divorce from redneck Jake (Josh Lucas), a slack-jawed hick she hasnt seen for seven years.
Said hick has other plans, though: Namely to win back his childhood sugar-bean and prove that hes worth every last cent of her new suitors wealth.
Reese is the reason to go see Sweet Home, of course. Then again, shed have made even Pretty Woman watchable. The fact that it took millions more in its opening weekend than the 1990 sickly-sweet love fable goes to show what a hit she is.
great art direction that looks like the best work of the Alabama tourist board
and the occasional dark joke, Sweet Home manages to peek above your regular
knockabout romcom. Theres echoes of Four Weddings and a Funeral (though,
perhaps, a little less sharp) in there too: Comically interrupted ceremonials,
gay best friend etc, etc.
On the surface, Sweet Homes a conventional catfish-out-of-water romantic comedy, but take a peep under the chicken fried steak and gravy and youll find a well-acted, well-directed and finely-shot feelgood movie, as melodic, plucky and exhilarating as a tautly-tuned banjo with not a Lynyrd Skynyrd beard in sight. Hell, you can even smell the apple pie cooling on the window sill.