Friday, February 09, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

According to Amazon, I purchased SWEET HOME ALABAMA (2002) on DVD in January 2003. I remember enjoying it but not much else, and somehow it ended up sitting on the shelf untouched for the ensuing 15 years!

SWEET HOME ALABAMA costars Reese Witherspoon and Candice Bergen were reunited in HOME AGAIN (2017), which I very much enjoyed last September. Around that time I also happened to read a column by Mary Katharine Ham musing on SWEET HOME ALABAMA and its messages.

Thanks to the combination of HOME AGAIN and the column, I pulled SWEET HOME ALABAMA off the shelf and put it in my "watch" pile, and it bubbled up to the top of the stack tonight. I found it very enjoyable and don't plan to go another 15 years before I watch it again!

Witherspoon plays Melanie Carmichael, a New York fashion designer newly engaged to handsome, wealthy, and kind Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey, ENCHANTED), son of the mayor of New York (Bergen). Mama Hennings is a ferocious barracuda who's suspicious of Melanie, but Andrew is determined to marry his true love.

Mama is right to be suspicious, though...before she can marry Andrew, Melanie has to hurry home to Alabama in the first time in seven years. It seems her real name is Melanie Smooter, and she's still married to her high school sweetheart, Jake Perry (Josh Lucas), who's never gotten around to signing the divorce papers she regularly sends him.

Back home in Alabama Melanie revisits a past she'd tried to escape for a new life...and strangely enough, she discovers that she's happy being back home again. She also realizes that she still has a strong bond with Jake. What to do?

This is a funny and touching film about a young woman admitting her mistakes, maturing, and accepting who she is rather than trying to hide it. The entire cast is appealing, and really the film's only flaw is that both the leading men are so darn nice, you feel bad for the one who ends up in the "Ralph Bellamy role" without the bride.

Witherspoon makes a flawed character appealing as she owns up to her past choices, and her reactions as she's reminded of her youthful escapades are quite amusing. Bergen is absolutely hilarious, particularly when she's mourning her son's breakup with a past girlfriend from California ("all those electoral votes!").

In short, this is a relaxing "feel good" movie which provides a pleasant evening's entertainment.

SWEET HOME ALABAMA was directed by Andy Tennant and filmed by Andrew Dunn. It runs an hour and 48 minutes. The fine supporting cast includes Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, and Fred Ward.

Parental Advisory: This film is a relatively mild PG-13, mostly for language.

SWEET HOME ALABAMA is available on DVD or a 10th Anniversary Blu-ray. It can be rented for streaming on Amazon.

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