Roberts Says a Little Prayer
Think of any of the messy love triangle/ romantic comedies which Doris Day made her own and you will get a very good idea of what "My Best Friend's Wedding" is, they even mention Doris Day in one of the scenes. Not that it's a criticism as these amusing romantic comedies surrounding a love triangle are both entertaining and fun when done well and "My Best Friend's Wedding" is at times done very well. But at the same time it is at times a little too corny for words, no more so than in the various musical inspired scenes.
Out of the blue food critic Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts - The Pelican Brief) gets a call from her long time best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney - Copycat) to tell her that he has met someone and is going to be married in 4 days. Realising that she in fact loves Michael, Julianne heads off in the hope that with time running out she can stop Michael getting married. But rather than just tell him how she feels Julianne tries to scheme her way into getting Michael to break up with his bride to be, the annoyingly perfect Kim (Cameron Diaz - The Mask).
The storyline to "My Best Friend's Wedding" is as simple as they come and the same storyline has been done before and since in movies such as "Made of Honour" and as such revolves around that simple love triangle where we get Julianne realising that she is in love with Michael just as he is about to marry Kim. Nothing any different there and nor is much of what follows as we watch Julianne try to put a stop to the wedding through various methods of skulduggery such as the embarrassing karaoke scene or trying to make Michael jealous by pretending to be engaged to her book editor George, who just happens to be gay. Common sense says just tell him how you feel but that wouldn't make for a romantic comedy and some of the schemes that Julianne cooks up are laced with fun.
Credit where it's due and director P.J. Hogan manages to mix things up a bit especially when it comes to your loyalties. You feel like you should be favouring Julianne to win her man because she does love him, especially when Kim is so irritatingly nice and friendly but then Kim is so innocent that you can't hate her and you feel sorry for her in a way making you dislike Julianne for all her meddling. It may not sound important in what is just another run of the mill rom-com but it does make it a little more interesting. As does the fact that whilst a happy ending is predictable you're not sure who exactly will win the man.
Something which often helps when it comes to rom-coms is picking the right songs and it has to be said that "My Best Friend's Wedding" is full of great songs all of which are recognizable. From the opening song "Wishin' and Hopin'" over the girly credits through to Kim's murdering of "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" at the karaoke bar and the best mans helium filled rendition of John Denver's "Annie's Song" are all great songs. Yet there are times when they feel just wrong such as George's sudden sing along to "I Say a Little Prayer" which whilst a memorable scene is seriously cheesy, too cheesy for words.
As for the actual performances well Julia Roberts is pretty much playing the same character she was given in all her earlier romantic comedies, which means she is beautiful, sexy and accident prone. Opposite her Dermot Mulroney gives us a cross between Rock Hudson and Cary Grant yet feels weak in comparison and then there is Cameron Diaz being the overly perfect Kim. There isn't really much to shout about, they all do well in what is more a funny movie than a romantic one, which is a good job as the chemistry between any of them never really lights up the screen, even in the manufactured romantic dance scene on a boat as Michael serenades Julianne with their song.
What this all boils down to is that "My Best Friend's Wedding" is a fun, entertaining romantic comedy which will make you smile whilst watching but won't linger on in your memory when it's over. What makes it a bit different to many rom-coms is that it plays about with your loyalties and despite some cheesy moments does have a very good soundtrack.