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ISSUE 116 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/18/2002

Critics Corner: “Sweet Home Alabama” reels in audience with sweet romance and comedic script

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer


Friday, October 18, 2002

Sweet Home Alabamas formulaic plot contains very few surprises, however, it is the humorous and witty down-home jokes and Reese Witherspoons dazzling performance that make the movie. Although Sweet Home Alabama has seemed to compile numerous less-than-average reviews, Reese Witherspoons leading lady role is a definite highlight. In the movie, Witherspoon ventures to prove that the charisma she displayed in last years hit, Legally Blonde, wasn’t merely a stroke of luck. As swanky Manhattan fashion designer, Melanie Carmichael, she is torn between a wealthy, handsome New York bachelor, Andrew (Patrick Dempsey) and her sweet, red-necked, hometown husband, Jake (Josh Lucas) from seven years before whom she had not yet had the opportunity to divorce. Melanie Carmichael manages to dig herself into a hole when she accepts a marriage proposal from Andrew, who happens to be the son of the snooty mayor of New York City (Kate, played by Candice Bergen). Andrew is unaware of the fact that Melanie has unresolved issues — a husband — back in her small hometown in Alabama, who refuses to sign the divorce papers. In attempting to make a name for herself in Manhattan, Carmichael (her real last name is Smooter) neglects to inform Andrew of her working-class parents, Pearl (Mary Kay Place) — who makes the best jam in three counties and Earl Smooter (Fred Ward) — who revels in lounging in his chair and participating in Civil War reenactments. Hastily, Melanie scrambles to take care of her unfinished business and returns to her simple roots in Pigeon Creek, Ala. for the first time in seven years. Upon arrival she and Jake meet once again and end up in a bitter argument, which spurs the arrival of the sheriff, an old friend of Melanie and Jake. Jake, who is undoubtedly still in love with Melanie, refuses to sign the papers once again  surely trying to hold on to the little thread of hope that he still has. Jakes plan is to prove himself, earn success, and win Melanie back. While Melanie is anxiously awaiting the completion of her divorce, she decides to settle in at home and have some good old southern honky tonk fun by attending a bar with her old friends, dancing the night away in a street dance to the famous Lynard Skynard song, “Sweet Home Alabama,” and finally, visiting the battlegrounds of the Civil War to watch her father surrender in the reenactment. It seems that, in the process of going out of her way to convince Jake to sign the divorce papers, she falls in love with her hometown and misses her childhood antics and the day that she once stated, “Jake, I want you to be the last one I kiss.” Some of us want Melanie to flock overseas to Ireland with her wealthy fiancé, while others want to see her reunite with her quiet, adorable husband of the past. Sweet Home Alabama is a romantic, comedic fairytale with a happy ending that will be sure to bring emotions of laughter and tears. Reese Witherspoon fans will swoon over her comedic timing, edgy good looks, and overall charming performance. Sweet Home Alabama is highly predictable at times, yet when an amazing leading lady and great clothes mingle with southern twangs and a couple of hunks from very different sides of the spectrum, interesting things happen. Add a gay friend of Melanies and a few punches on the big wedding day in and a good time is definitely had. Sweet Home Alabama is the perfect movie for a night out with the girls or a romantic date as well.





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