Sweet Home Alabama

Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Candice Bergen. Directed by Andy Tennant.
Running Time: 109 mins
Rated: PG

After the surprise smash hit "Legally Blonde" and the much debated adaptation of "The Importance Being Earnest" it is a curious move for Reese Witherspoon to star in the very slight Sweet Home Alabama.

Melanie (Witherspoon) escaped the Deep South of the USA for New York City where she has become a fashion designer. In fact she is the toast of the town. She also has a great boyfriend in Andrew (Dempsey), a state politician and son of the controlling Kate (Bergen), New York's Mayor. When Andrew proposes marriage to Melanie, she has to flee back to her small hometown to attend to some urgent business that stands in the way of her future happiness: her first marriage to Jake (Lucas). Returning home is never easy in the movies and Melanie has to face up to more than one broken relationship.

This love triangle story is based on such tried and true material that it seems like this was a good theme song looking for a screenplay. All the opposites are present and accounted for: north/south; rich/poor; city/rural; republican/democrat. The only missing element is Catholic/Protestant or Christian/Jewish. An oversight I'm sure. There are a few funny scenes and major feel-good factors throughout. All the lead actors give workmanlike performances, but with a wafer-thin script, no one shines. The turning points are so obvious that what passes for the final dramatic scene neither overly pleases or surprises anyone.

Sweet Home Alabama is a production-line, family film which we have seen many times before, but maybe that's damning it with faint praise.

Richard Leonard SJ

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