Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)


(director: P.J. Hogan; screenwriter: Ronald Bass; cinematographer: Laszlo Kovacs; editors: Garth Craven/Lisa Fruchtman; music: James Newton Howard; cast: Julia Roberts (Julianne Potter), Cameron Diaz (Kimmy Wallace), Rupert Everett (George Downes), Dermot Mulroney (Michael O’Neal), Rachel Griffiths (Samantha Newhouse); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Ronald Bass/Jerry Zucker; TriStar; 1997)

“A romantic comedy that is both mawkish and subversive.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Aussie director P.J. Hogan (“Muriel’s Wedding”) helms and Ronald Bass writes a romantic comedy that is both mawkish and subversive, where the comedy is grating at times but the story does get away from the usual feel-good sitcom reality by bringing out the morally worst potentials in all of us.

Julianne Potter is a New York food critic played with relish by starlet Julia Roberts. In college the beaming Julianne was romantically involved with heartthrob Michael O’Neal (Dermot Mulroney), and after breaking up, they have remained distant but best friends. The former lovers have made a pact that if they are not married by the time they are 28, they will marry each other. But now just before that age the hot Michael reconnects with her and mentions that he wants to marry a Chicago heiress he recently met–Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz), the perfect girl (she’s personable, sensitive, attractive, bright, and cultured). The news instead of making Julianne happy that her friend has found happiness, finds her shuddering in horror that she’s about to lose the one she suddenly realizes she loves and she immediately goes into action to ruin those marriage plans.

Julianne has been made the maid of honor even though she’s a stranger to the bride. She has a window of opportunity of four days to snatch back her man. Hogan wants us to empathize with this treacherous woman as she plays dirty to humiliate her rival at a karaoke club, acts to mess up her honeymoon travel plans, tricks Michael to be on a scenic tour boat with her alone and continues to sabotage the wedding plans while still turning on her charm. She also forms an alliance with her handsome friend and editor George Downes (Rupert Everett), a homosexual who is asked to pose as Julianne’s boyfriend at the ceremony to arouse jealousy in Michael.

When the film crashes from an overload of its cynical amorality stance and the realization that the Dermot Mulroney character must be a dolt not to recognize what’s going on, the only one left standing with any pride is the perceptive character played by Everett. He steals the film by making his role more complex than the others and providing the running commentary on the situation which tunes him into how most in the audience are thinking. The film lacked credible comedy and romance, but it does address issues related to the nature of love. For that alone it deserves credit by pointing out that ‘everything is fair in love and war,’ a point of view that resounds when the film ends on the happy note of Julia Roberts getting the man she deserves in the ‘new fashioned’ way. It makes for a different kind of screwball comedy/romance, one with dubious morals.