My Best Friend's Wedding

on June 20, 1997 by Christine James
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   The institution of marriage is treated irreverentally from the onset in this romantic comedy, starting with an amusing musical number in which, through the medium of a saccharine song, an anonymous bride advises her bridesmaids and the audience on the best way to catch a husband. We then cut to the predicament of our protagonist: Julianne (Julia Roberts), a commitment-avoiding independent woman of the '90s, believes her best friend Michael ("Kansas City's" Dermot Mulroney) is going to ask her to live up to one of those pacts that movie characters tend to make--in which two friends agree to marry each other if they haven't met anybody else by a certain age. She worries about how to let him down but gets a shock when he instead asks her to fly down for his wedding to his new love, 20-year-old co-ed Kimmy ("Head Above Water's" Cameron Diaz). At this fall-on-the-floor moment, Julianne realizes that she wants to walk down the aisle with Michael, and decides to do whatever she can to break the duo up.
   Unfortunately, her match-breaking mischief is not very fun or creative; at one point, she even admits that her ill-intentioned actions were "not even inventive," which seems to be more an apology from scripter Ron Bass than anything else. Mostly, though, the film suffers from a lack of a charismatic leading man. A guy would have to be pretty irresistible to incite a woman to go to such lengths to win him. But Michael is not very exciting and even a little boorish and insensitive.
   Roberts and Diaz are both energetically exuberant as the dueling dames, but it's Rupert Everett ("Cemetery Man") who steals the show as Julianne's editor and second-best friend. He tries to help Julianne in her dilemma but becomes roped in as a fake fiance in a plan to make Michael jealous. But, in playful revenge, he creates a colorful persona for this faux beau, one who paws at Julianne and is prone to slap women's derrieres and burst into song. It's a nice surprise, as he's set up to be simply the friend who listens while the exposition is laid out; instead, he winds up chewing the scenery.
   Although Everett definitely revivifies the proceedings, it's not quite enough. Because it's not shown what it is about Michael that's so great, there's no tension with regard to the outcome. Still, there are many humorous moments throughout, though some of the more outrageous segments seem too contrivedly wacky. Starring Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz and Rupert Everett. Directed by P.J. Hogan. Written by Ron Bass. Produced by Ron Bass and Jerry Zucker. A TriStar release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 on appeal for one use of strong language and brief sex-related humor. Running time: 107 min
Tags: Starring Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Everett. Directed by P.J. Hogan, Written by Ron Bass, Produced by Ron Bass, Jerry Zucker, TriStar, romantic comedy
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