Once again Reese Witherspoon claims her position as America’s sweetheart. She delivers a more than enjoyable performance in her latest romantic comedy, Sweet Home Alabama. The film’s combination of Reese and her good-looking co-stars may place it in the “chick flick” section, yet the wit and humor of the South drag the movie out of this pigeonhole.
Melanie Carmichael (Witherspoon), a.k.a. Smooter, is a 28-year-old fashion designer in New York City. In the midst of her successful career, she gets a marriage proposal from the city’s “Most Eligible Bachelor,” Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsy, Can’t Buy Me Love), the son of fictional New York Mayor Katherine Hennings (Candace Bergen, “Murphy Brown”). Melanie is forced to confront her concealed past, including her redneck husband, Jake Perry (Josh Lucas, A Beautiful Mind), whom she married in high school. Though they’ve been separated, Jake has refused to give Melanie a divorce.
Dressed in sophisticated, self-designed attire, Melanie makes her way back to Alabama to tell her parents the good news and demand a divorce from Jake. As Melanie tries to persuade her husband to sign the papers, she regains her southern accent and rediscovers her past. The ambitious designer realizes her old pranks and tomboyish ways have not come back to haunt her, but never really left.
In the midst of all the chaos, Andrew makes a surprise visit. Melanie creates a false life with the help of her old friends, including Bobby Ray (Ethan Embry, Can’t Hardly Wait) and Lurlynn (Melanie Lynskey, Ever After).
The energetic characters and distinct personalities of the South create a witty dialogue in Sweet Home Alabama. Performances by the all-star cast compensate for the simple plot.
It’s not high-cinema, but definitely Friday night fun. Grab a date, or some girlfriends, for an hour and a half of smiles, tears and laughter.