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My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

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Almost 19 years ago (!) I got an invitation to a wedding. It was actually a gussied-up press release for this, which is horribly long ago and seems like halcyon days from this vantage point:  when movies were GOOD. It is a totally subversive take on the romcom with Julia Roberts starring as a scheming temptress restaurant critic out to stop the whirlwind marriage of her old college bud sports journo Dermot Mulroney because they promised each other years ago that if they’d not found anyone better, they’d marry each other. She shows up in Chicago, meets the nauseatingly perky baseball team heiress Cameron Diaz, and hatches a plan to split them up, show Mulroney he’s making a mistake and marry her instead. It all goes … horribly wrong, with Julia’s gay best friend Rupert Everett demonstrating the error of her ways. And that’s just the half of it. Ron Bass’s script (remember Ron Bass? His name was EVERYWHERE for a while) is funny, fantastically plotted, poignant, characterful and true.  Aussie director PJ Hogan had scored a monster hit with the crazy funny Muriel’s Wedding and he was tapped to helm this. He had an idea that he didn’t fully explain to the studio:  he wanted to make a musical. And so the songs of Bacharach & David provide a chorus to the unfolding comedy drama, with Say A Little Prayer led by Everett and sung round the table at The Crab House rehearsal meal a highlight of Nineties cinema. This is so daring, so funny, so touching and audience-pleasing it’s ridiculous. Everett’s role was built up during production because nobody had any idea he was such a great comic actor (and you should read his memoirs, especially the first one, Red Carpets and Banana Skins – unforgettable in so many ways!) The ending had to be changed after negative preview reactions so … we have a newly shot additional scene that happens here. But none of it could conceivably work without Julia Roberts as a tragicomic Lucy Ricardo: she is simply magnificent. If you want to know why she was the world’s biggest movie star for a very long time, just watch this. Enjoy.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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