Sweet Sweet Sound of Alabama
As romantic comedies go "Sweet Home Alabama" starring Reese Witherspoon and Josh Lucas is one of my favourites, despite that it doesn't do anything majorly different to various other rom-coms. It's very predictable, following an unoriginal storyline, and often resides in being clichÃ© when it comes to the dialogue. But "Sweet Home Alabama" has charm, a mixture of comedy and romance which gives it a sweetness but not to the point it becomes overdone. Plus the casting of Reese Witherspoon and Josh Lucas is perfect making a believable yet amusing arguetive couple.
Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon - Legally Blonde) is a rising New York fashion designer who along with her fabulous lifestyle is engaged to Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey - Scream 3) one of New York's most eligible bachelors. But before she can marry Andrew she must face up to her past which she has been keeping a secret from everyone. For Melanie is really Melanie Smooter and is still married to her high school sweet heart, Jake (Josh Lucas - A Beautiful Mind), who refuses to divorce her. Determined to convince her estranged husband to sign the papers, she travels back to her humble home in Alabama. But her journey back brings warm memories of her childhood and starts to have doubts about where her future really lies.
On the surface "Sweet Home Alabama" is very much like any other rom-com, the storyline is light, fluffy and predictable as Melanie basically has to decide between her fabulous lifestyle in New York with Andrew or the less than glamorous but wholesome life with Jake she left behind in Alabama. After the first 15 minutes we know where "Sweet Home Alabama" will lead and it is a case of can it sustain are interest going from A to B. Well it can thanks to the casting, the comedy, the romance and despite various clichÃ© scenes a storyline which charms you.
Director Andy Tennant who had already delivered the amusing "Fools Rush In" doesn't try to break the mould with "Sweet Home Alabama" he knows that it's no breath taking love story or an original master piece. Instead he plays to its strengths, such as the warmth yet quirky life back in Alabama, the arguing between Melanie and Jake, plus of course the differences between glamorous New York and Alabama when Andrew and his mother the Mayor showing up. It's certainly nothing amazingly new but it all works and mixed with the underlying romantic element delivers that journey from A - B quite perfectly.
What really does make "Sweet Home Alabama" so entertaining is Reese Witherspoon who is on fine form as Melanie Smooter. It's a great character bossy and career minded yet still in love with her past and Reese Witherspoon delivers this. There is a nice energy to her performance which stops it from ever feeling dull or despite the clichÃ© dialogue like a caricature.
Alongside Reese Witherspoon you sort of have two leading men Josh Lucas as Jake and Patrick Dempsey as Andrew. Lucas adds the rugged strong male character which the movie needed to provide that chalk and cheese feeling between Melanie and his character. It's an adequate performance not overly remarkable but the pairing of Reese Witherspoon and Josh Lucas works well, being believable and entertaining. The there is Patrick Dempsey who honestly doesn't get much screen time and in the little he gets struggles to make an impression. Unlike with Josh Lucas the pairing of Reese Witherspoon and Patrick Dempsey just doesn't feel right and is not really believable. Thankfully Witherspoon is on top form through out the movie and carries it in those few moments when it doesn't feel like its working.
What this all boils down to is that "Sweet Home Alabama" is a sweet, charming rom-com that never tries to be anything more than light and enjoyable. It's completely predictable and often clichÃ© but between director Andy Tennant's grasp on what makes it work and Reese Witherspoon's top performance it achieves what it sets out to be, easy entertainment.