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True Love prevails yet again
on 6 February 2006
SWEET HOME ALABAMA presents moviegoers yet again with that familiar plot: True Love between an adorable couple triumphs even though one (or both) are tempted by another Hottie almost to the point of complete surrender.
Several years ago, the female lead in this film might have been given to an adorably tousled Meg Ryan, but, alas, none of us are as young as we used to be. So, Reese Witherspoon plays Melanie, the up and coming New York fashion designer who's won the heart of the Mayor's son, Andrew (Patrick Dempsey). And what a Hunk Andy is! Not only is he reminiscent of JFK, Jr., but he proposes to Melanie by escorting her into Tiffany's after-hours and inviting her to pick out the engagement ring of her choice. What's a poor girl to do but say "yes"? But, before the nuptials, she must go back home to Alabama to take care of some private business, which is get divorce papers signed by her childhood sweetheart and secret husband Jake (Josh Lucas), long since estranged.
Reese is sweet - a worthy successor to MR. And Lucas has that roguish handsomeness and attitude of, say, Matthew McConaughey or a very young Paul Newman. As a matter of fact, the only thing wrong with Jake, according to the scriptwriters, is that he hasn't any prospects, lives with his coon dog in backwater Alabama, plays pool with his good ol' boy buds on Saturday night, was too drunk to dance with Melanie at their wedding reception, and, well, isn't Andrew.
Perhaps the best reason to see SWEET HOME ALABAMA is Candice Bergen as Kate, the Big Apple's mayor and Andrew's mother. Kate sees her son as Presidential material, so appearances are everything. She's horrified that he might actually (gulp!) marry someone so plebeian as a fashion designer. Kate's persona is acerbic MURPHY BROWN gone on to bigger things. So how do you suppose she'll react if she discovers that Melanie's parents live in a double-wide? And, speaking of parents, Fred Ward appears as Earl, Melanie's Dad. Where's Fred been since he played the unlucky Gus Grissom in THE RIGHT STUFF (1983)?
Now, don't think me a complete curmudgeon. This isn't a badly done or unpleasant movie. But how many times do we have to revisit the storyline? During the film's opening scene, an 11 year-old Melanie shares a first kiss with an equally young Jake on a beach during a thunder and lightning storm. When Melanie asks Jake why he wants to marry her, Jake responds, "So I can kiss you any time I want." With a Hallmark moment like this, who could doubt the outcome?