Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday Romantic Comedy Classic

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Thursday Romantic Comedy Classic. I’m taking a course called The Romantic Comedy where we’re charting the history and development of romantic comedies from the 1920s to the present. We’ll be watching some pretty iconic films, some of which I haven’t seen before. Each week, I’ll be providing a short review of one romantic comedy classic from the annals of history.

My Best Friend’s Wedding
Directed by P.J. Hogan
Released June 20, 1997

After looking at the history of romantic comedies, this is the first film starring the other definitive romantic comedy leading lady next to Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts. She made a number of similar films in the 1990s, including “Pretty Woman” and “Runaway Bride,” but this one epitomizes her role in the grand scheme of the genre. Within minutes of the film’s opening, Julianne (Roberts) has decided that, upon hearing of her best friend’s impending nuptials, she wants to win him for herself. Her pursuit of him and the comedy that ensues is something that’s been done over and over again in films like this, but what’s important to note is that this is one of the originals. What sets it above average is its strong ensemble and the way that they work together. Roberts is great at pining for others and actually getting up and doing something about it. Dermot Mulroney, who isn’t usually terrific, is just the person for the role of Michael, Julianne’s best friend who can’t quite see the love that she has for him. A very young Cameron Diaz is charming and wonderfully naïve as Kimberly, Michael’s fiancée who recognizes a threat in Julianne but still designs to befriend her. And then there’s Rupert Everett, who steals scenes throughout the film as Julianne’s gay other best friend who steps in for her whenever she needs him and makes the film absolutely entertaining. It’s also fun to spot actors who would later make it in television in small roles, like the slutty Newhouses, played by Carrie Preston (“True Blood”) and Rachel Griffiths (“Six Feet Under”), and Michael’s younger brother, played by Christopher Masterson (“Malcolm in the Middle”). The most memorable scenes are those where the whole cast gathers together for a celebratory dinner or event. I still can’t get “I Say A Little Prayer” out of my head. The musical score is also fantastic and festive. This film has many delightful, frustrating, and fun moments, and it can easily be seen as a prototype for best-friend films that have come out in the dozen years since its release. It’s certainly a romantic comedy that slants toward a female audience, but it’s hard not to enjoy it.


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