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Sweet Home Alabama

Starring Reese Witherspoon
Screenplay by C. Jay Cox; story by Douglas J. Eboch
Directed by Andy Tennant

IN SHORT: A passable romantic comedy, in need of another couple of passes through the word processor. [Rated PG-13 for some language/sexual references. 110 minutes]

We began this website in 1995 after a number of years in which we, in reverse chronological order, circulated a movie review newsletter, took a couple of gigs on professional film productions and blasted through film school in as short a time as possible. We may be opinionated, like it or not, but we have formed opinions as to certain specifics of film production. One of those opinions, if you will, is that no good romantic comedy should run longer than 90-95 minutes. Sweet Home Alabama pretty much confirms that view. Nothing IMHO about it though, if you decide that we're out of our minds after viewing Sweet Home Alabama on the big screen, at minimum the ladies will have seen a big wedding, always a pleaser, and the guys will have had 99.9% perfect views of Mrs. Ryan Phillippe.

Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) has spent the last seven years working her way up the ladders of the New York fashion industry. Too many forty eight hour days have led to a breakthrough runway show which may bring fame, fortune and everything that goes with it. Add to that life her fabulously successful lawyer boyfriend Andrew Hemmings (Patrick Dempsey), who just happens to be the son of New York Mayor Kate Hemmings (Candice Bergen), and it couldn't get much better, could it? Well, howzabout if that wonderful Prince Charming knows a secret back entrance to a store whose trademark blue boxes have been known to bring men to their knees? And gets down on one of those knees, saying, essentially, "Pick any Tiffany diamond you'd like on your ring finger? Could it get any better than that?

Of course not. That's why Ms. Carmichael must beg off for a few days, to take care of some personal business -- she needs a divorce from the husband she abandoned seven years earlier. His name is Jake (Josh Lucas) and he'd rather hold a grudge than a pen with which to sign the divorce papers. Melanie's parents, Earl and Pearl (Fred Ward and Mary Kay Place) would love to see all wrongs righted, even if they haven't seen their one and only pride and joy in seven years, choosing not to use the pair of open ended plane tickets have been sitting in a drawer in the kitchen for eighteen months or so. Jake's mom Stella Kay (Jean Smart) adds even more pressure to the mix. While trying to keep all this stuff under the boiling level, "Felony Melanie" (the explanation for that is just too dumb to spoil) busts up one of Jake's hot dates, strips him of his, uh, assets and manages to insult or embarrass almost all residents of her hometown in one drunken night. That includes accidentally outing Bobby Ray Carmichael (Ethan Embry), who is not her brother, but is an unawares integral part of a deception Melanie has woven for the past seven years. Those lies start to come undone when both an intrepid reporter from the NY Post (who may truly be an investigator sent by Andrew's mom) and that devoted fiance converge on the Carmichael Plantation in Greenville. Melanie, you see, is not a Carmichael. She's a Smooter and her real residence is a double wide trailer down the road in Pigeon Creek..

OK folks, you've got more than enough story to fill to the brim any well-written, madcap romantic romp. The problem is, Sweet Home Alabama is just not that well written.All of this stuff, just like the internal clock we wrote about, is done at about the ninety minute mark but Sweet Home Alabama keeps on rolling along as a huge wedding is upstaged by one whopper of a visual continuity error in the Third Act that throws a wrench into the logic of the entire story.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Sweet Home Alabama, he would have paid . . .


Still, as a way to kill a Saturday night for the dating kidlets, Sweet Home Alabama is not impossible. As much as we love Southern Rock, there's too much musical padding in the front half to keep us interested as the "surprise" in the last act spins out of control.Wait for pay per view.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.