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Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
- Funny Divorce Movies (#4)
Sweet Home Alabama is an American, romantic comedy film directed by Andy Tennant, starring Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, and Patrick Dempsey. The film was released on September 27, 2002. The film opens on an Alabama beach with two children chasing each other- Melanie Smooter and Jake Perry. The two discuss their future together. They kiss, and Jake says they will be married one day. The scene then moves to the present day. Melanie (Reese Witherspoon) has changed her last name to Carmichael to hide her Southern roots. She now is a successful fashion designer in New York City. After becoming engaged to the mayor's son, Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), Melanie announces that she has to go back home alone to Alabama to tell her parents. She has not told Andrew that she is still married to Jake (Josh Lucas). Upon arrival in Alabama, Melanie demands a divorce and an explanation as to why, for the last seven years, Jake has returned the divorce papers unsigned. Jake, once again, refuses to sign the papers. Melanie retaliates by emptying out their joint checking account.
Melanie immediately travels to her hometown and confronts Jake in an attempt to end their relationship once and for all, but fond memories of the Alabama locals and her old husband offer an unlikely alternative to her future in the big apple. As Andrew awaits her return, Melanie unexpectedly struggles over her choice between the two vastly different lifestyles.
There are only two available options for the protagonist here, and the movie desperately paddles against the current by supporting country livin' in Alabama over wealth and position in New York. In spite of this, Sweet Home Alabama does prove its position effectively and entertainingly. It does so by forming an understanding between Melanie and the audience; the viewers completely surrender themselves to her decision, which, unfortunately, is easily foreseeable by the trailers alone. (Anyone else remember Doc Hollywood?)
But the movie's obviousness doesn't matter, since it's the entertaining atmosphere that makes the film entertaining. There are plenty of characters for Melanie to interact with that give the movie variety and freshness. Although most of these characters are merely unimaginative stereotypes, like the gay fashion designer, overprotective parents, egotistical politicians, and hometown roughnecks, they still contribute to the enormously enjoyable mood of the film.
Despite the gleeful atmosphere, director Andy Tennant (Ever After) fails to provide C. Jay Cox's screenplay with quite enough edge and many scenes feel stale and tiresome, and the movie eventually takes the easy way out. It's Witherspoon who keeps the audience involved, establishing delightful chemistry with Dempsey and an amusing personality clash with Lucas. Even Bergen goes over the top with her character, providing the movie some of its most hilarious moments.
Whether you're a bustling businessperson in a busy city a laidback local in the middle of nowhere, Sweet Home Alabama will make you smile (provided you don't think about it too much).
Reese fans will eat up the Sweet DVD release, which offers a commentary track (not from her, sorry) and tons of deleted scenes (including a rather cruel original ending -- no, she doesn't marry the other guy; crueler than that).
'Like, no way I'm going to live in Alabama! As if!'