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Sweet Home Alabama

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Sweet Home Alabama

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Candice Bergen
Director: Andy Tennant
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: September 2002
Genres: Comedy, Romance

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

If one defines a movie star as an actor/actress whose presence can carry, even elevate, a mediocre movie, Reese Witherspoon is definitely a movie star. In this romantic comedy fantasy, she plays Melanie Carmichael, an aspiring New York fashion designer who's ardently pursued by Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), the handsome, wealthy son of the Mayor (Candice Bergen). But when she accepts his Tiffany-tinged, ultra-romantic proposal, she doesn't tell him that there's a slight complication: she's still legally married to Jake (Josh Lucas), a laid-back loser who for seven years has refused to sign divorce papers. Determined to rectify this oversight, she returns Pigeon Creek, Alabama, where she discovers she still hankers for small-town beer-swilling Jake and his baying bloodhound, particularly since he's become a success in the glass-blowing business.

Problem is: writer C. Jay Cox and director Andy Tennant ("Ever After") not only opt for a predictable plot and cliché stereotypes (Southern yokels, Manhattan snobs, gay fashionistas, country-bumpkin parents, deep-fried rednecks, arrogant Mayor) but they also have made Melanie into a thoughtless, cruel, selfish bitch who ruthlessly manipulates her well-meaning parents, kind friends and Andrew who, after one soul-searching lapse, is basically a good guy. Only Reese's impeccable comic timing and abundant charm keeps the getting-your-values-back concept afloat. It's also a curious twist that in "Legally Blonde," Reese's character went from dumb bunny to smart cookie and, here, the reverse is true. Candice Bergen is funny, yet she did the same edgy character in "Miss Congeniality." So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Sweet Home Alabama" is a frothy, amiable 7 - thanks to the irresistible charisma of Reese Witherspoon.

Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger

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