Nov 15, 2014

Review: My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)

My girlfriend really likes Julia Roberts, so here I am once again with another movie of hers that definitely falls in the "chick flick" category. Wish there was a better term than that because I hate using it. Not that I give my girlfriend any grief though, we're totally even when it comes to what movies we choose so there's no hard feelings. Plus I watch anything anyway and My Best Friend's Wedding is meant to be one of Julia's top movies, so I was curious to see it.

Truth be told, I'm not really sure where I stand in terms of my like for Julia Roberts. Without a doubt Erin Brockovich is my favourite performance of hers that I've seen, bar none. But then she has roles in movies like Runaway Bride and Valentine's Day that I don't find very good. I think my problem is that I never really like her in romantic comedy roles. Notting Hill is the only rom-com I've seen her in that I actually liked. One thing you can't deny though, she's always been a big box office draw. That time is probably coming to an end though.

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Genre: comedy, romance
Directed by: P.J. Hogan
Produced by: Ronald Bass, Jerry Zucker, Gil Netter, etc.
Written by: Ronald Bass
Music by: James Newton Howard
Running time: 105 minutes
Production company: TriStar Pictures, Zucker Brothers Productions, Predawn Productions
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Entertainment, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $38,000,000
Box office: $299,288,605 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Everett, Philip Bosco, M. Emmet Walsh, Rachel Griffiths, Carrie Preston, Susan Sullivan, Christopher Masterson

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Synopsis


Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) is a food critic who's been longtime friends with Michael O'Neal (Dermot Mulroney). They dated for a short while but then decided that they weren't really made to be in a relationship together. They did however make a promise to one another that if they reach the age of 28 and weren't yet married, they'd marry each other. Completely out of the blue and only four days before Julianne turns 28, Michael calls and announces that he's getting married. Cue Julianne losing her mind and planning to sabotage the wedding. 


Review


There's nothing all that great about the setup of My Best Friend's Wedding. Both main characters are weakly drawn to me and Julianne's motivation to win back Michael before he gets married seems a bit sketchy to me. She's kept him around for all these years being content to date other people and then suddenly she loves him? This is addressed at a certain point but by that time the Julianne character is pretty much ruined for me. She's a really selfish person to want to ruin what Michael has with Kimberly (Cameron Diaz).

Kimberly isn't very good at preventing Julianne from trying to ruin her wedding though and Michael seems content to let it happen. Multiple times Michael finds himself all alone with Julianne which is just crazy. Kimberly knows that Michael and Julianne have a past, so why isn't she there supervising her man? Anyhow, if this were done we wouldn't have a movie to watch but I just find it all a bit hard to look past.

When it comes to Julia Roberts I have to admit that I was disappointed. She doesn't seem to have much of a penchant for comedy if MBFW is anything to go by and she looks like she's trying too hard. She was paid a reported $12 million for her role which is 32% of the whole budget. Maybe she felt that weight on her shoulders because it looks to me like she's trying to do too much. She's probably also trying to make up for what is a bit of a bland performance from her co-star Dermot Mulroney.

However, Cameron Diaz has quite a few funny moments which was great. The same thing goes for Rupert Everett who was also pretty good as the token gay guy who's a friend of Julianne's. Between the two of them, they deliver most if not almost all the comedy in MBFW. One thing I'll say that is pretty unique and pulled off quite well are the singing scenes. There are multiple scenes like this in the film and they too are quite funny. Besides Diaz, Everett and the singing, there's not much else that's actually funny.

As a whole though, My Best Friend's Wedding is pretty flat and on the uninteresting side. That uninterestingness is thankfully punctured by those few funny bits that I've mentioned. (Spoilers) One thing I'll give scriptwriter Ronald Bass credit for is how the movie ends. Julianne doesn't get her guy and she honourably concedes defeat which is pretty different from the usual rom-com. I definitely wasn't expecting it anyway. (End Spoilers)

(Spoilers) Originally, the movie would've ended with Julianne meeting a nice man at the wedding reception who was played by John Corbett. This scene was actually shot even. It thankfully didn't test well and the movie ended with a surprise visit from Rupert Everett's character which is way better. It's not a 100% happy ending that you'd expect and I dig it. (End Spoilers)

My Best Friend's Wedding brought in the big bucks as would be expected with Julia Roberts starring, so she did her job there. I do think she goes a little overboard in her role though and some of the blame probably goes to director P.J. Hogan for that. She doesn't do a good job at the comedy or the romance in this title but that's also something that can be blamed on the uneven script. Point is, there are quite a few unsatisfying elements in MBFW but it has a few good enough elements to put it in the OK category. 

OK, one last thing now. There's a huge surprise in MBFW  and that would be the tiny appearance of Paul Giamatti as a bellman in a hotel. This is obviously before he got famous but man, did he ever blow this little role out of the water. Really goes to show that he gives it all pretty much all the time. Love that man.

Rating


6/10