Sweet Home Alabama
9 out of 10
"Praise the Lord, the South has risen again."
Do you remember when you were a teenager and you were in love with the guy next door? We all have a past of some sort from a time of innocence when we were young, even when we have "made it."
A sweet, fun and heartfelt comedy, "Sweet Home Alabama" is the story of Melanie Smooter, a Southern girl who has finally made it as a fashion designer in New York City. Before her marriage to the mayor's wealthy and influential son Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey), she has to put to rest some secrets from her past - she has to go back to Alabama to get divorce papers signed by her "dumb stubborn redneck hick" ex-husband who now regards her as "hoity toity yankee bitch."
It is rare, but this delightful story has entertaining settings, performances and script so strong that it contains numerous lines that one would love to quote. Directed by Andrew Tennant ("Anna & The King"), a cut price production crew and two nearly first time film writers Douglas J. Eboch and C. Jay Cox, turn what could have been a shallow or flat production into a picture with sincere, easily flowing and genuine performances and dialogue, delivering an enjoyable comedy and a true love story.
Splashing out 32.9% of the entire budget on Reese Witherspoon by Buena Vista, a subsidiary of the scrooge-like Disney must have hurt, but proved a winning gamble as she is ideal in the lead role as the torn Smooter who tries to reconcile her success with what she feels is her parents unsuccessful life at home. Also Josh Lucas, outshines much of the cast as Jake, Melanie's jilted ex-husband who genuinely loves her and doesn't want to lose her. Also in strong supporting roles are veteran actors Mary Kay Place and Fred Ward as her parents and Ethan Embry of "Can't Hardly Wait" as Bobby Ray, her neighbour who "didn't do anything to me, darlin'... or any other girl in town!" as Melanie jabs.
With a soundtrack based on Country & Western greats and some humourous scenes of civil war re-enactment, Sweet Home Alabama is an entertaining look at north vs. south and a parable on the seduction of wealth of New England society. A touching story about the inner struggle we all face when handling the mistakes of our past, it's a great comedy and a fabulous treat for anyone who wishes to see Candice Bergen getting a punch in the gob.
Film Critic: Jennifer M Lillies