Julia Roberts made the world love her back in 1990 with
PRETTY WOMAN, but since then she's been in eight consecutive
bad movies. DYING YOUNG, MARY REILLY and I LOVE
TROUBLE hardly rank in the annals of filmed entertainment. It was
only at the end of 1996 in Woody Allen's EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE
YOU that she seemed like America's sweetheart once again. But no
one besides me watches Woody Allen movies anymore; it's going to
take a far inferior, watered-down romantic comedy to return her to
public graces again.
My guess is, MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING will be
Julia's big comeback vehicle. She's got her big permed hair and lips
fuller than ever, but even more important, she looks happy again.
No mad Doctor Jekyll to deal with this time, just a wedding to break
up. She's on a romantic mission that involves chicanery and
deception, and the breaking up of a happy couple, but because she's
Julia Roberts with her gracious beauty and awkward charm, we love
her character anyway.
Julia plays a food critic for a newspaper, probably the only
anorexic food critic ever (although she can recommend the best
lettuce leaf and Tic Tac in the city), who has been as of yet
unsuccessful in her quest for a man. The two most important men in
her life are her Stallone-faced best friend and her gay editor. It's an
implausible movie -- I mean, how could any man spend time around
Julia Roberts and still be gay? -- but still a mildly appealing
diversion with cast of beautiful people on both sides of the fence.
The best friend is played by not-so-young gun Dermot
Mulroney, who was once involved with Julia but now plans to marry
Cameron Diaz. Good choice. Diaz plays an eternally-perky college
student who immediately tries to make Julia into her best friend as
well. Julia instantly hates her, of course, which provides the
interesting scene where Julia makes Cameron sing in a karaoke bar
and she's so off-key that everyone loves her. Off-key isn't always
bad; Alanis sold 12 million albums.
Yes, the marriage setup is an excuse for Julia to be rude,
manipulative, sneaky and just plain mean once she realizes she's in
love with Mulroney herself. Like I said, we love every second of it,
because seeing Julia in the not-so-innocent roles brings the most
comedic reward. She's got that innocent yet worldwise quality that
made her a charming hooker in PRETTY WOMAN, and it still works
here. It would have been better to stick with the premise and break
convention, but the ending is completely sappy and predictable.
It's the sap and predictability that keeps MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING from being more than pretty good. The
writing follows the track we'd expect, giving us a handful of truly
funny jokes and only a couple memorable scenes like the "Say a
Prayer" sing-along sequence in the restaurant. The rest of the time it
relies too heavily on Roberts to fall off the bed, accidentally rip her
dress, knock things over, and so on. We love you, Julia, but your
name isn't Lucy.
Copyright © 1997 Andrew Hicks