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SWEET HOME ALABAMA

SYNOPSIS:
Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) is a small town girl who has become a successful New York fashion designer. Accepting the marriage proposal of Mayor's son Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), Melanie returns to her Alabama hometown to finalise a divorce from childhood sweetheart Jake (Josh Lucas). With Jake unwilling to grant a divorce and her old friends and family welcoming her visit with open arms, Melanie begins to question the prospect of life and marriage in the big city.


Review by Richard Kuipers:
Any resemblance to reality is strenuously avoided in a piece of fluff made watchable by Reese Witherspoon. The blonde cookie with a sweet heart and the most formidable Texan twang in Tinseltown is too good to be appearing in lazy formula films like this but thank heavens she's here to save the day.

If you're willing to accept a very contrived plot, cliched characters and a script you can practically mouth along with, Sweet Home Alabama does offer a few chuckles as fabulously successful New York fashion designer Melanie Carmichael hooks the hottest bachelor in town (Patrick Dempsey) and heads down home to Nowheresville Alabama to tidy up the loose ends of her previous life as lower-middle class white trash Melanie Smooter.

Once she visits Ma and Pa Smooter (Fred Ward and Mary Kay Place) and re-connects with her old high school pals and estranged hubby Jake (Josh Lucas) we know poor old Patrick doesn't stand a chance because home-spun values and earthy wisdom are much more fulfilling than life in the upper echelons of New York society - right?

Yes, according to a dreamy screenplay by C. Jay Cox that's aimed squarely at the 'sea change' nerve in urbanites ready to embrace the idea of life away from the big smoke as inherently more worthy and fulfilling than the rumble in the concrete jungle. Take Melanie's home town for example; there's no ATM because it reduces the bank's personal contact with customers (!!!) and there's even widespread acceptance of her gay schoolfriend Bobby Ray. Must be heaven.

Witherspoon's bouncy charm and a nice bitchy turn by Candice Bergen as the Mayor of New York keep the momentum up and there's a funny scene involving Civil War re-enactments but this is pretty thin stuff that requires maximum suspension of disbelief to approach. If you're in that frame of mind this is worth the visit...just.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

SOUNDTRACK REVIEW by Brad Green

SWEET HOME ALABAMA (M)
(US/Germany)

CAST: Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Candice Bergen, Mary Kay Place, Fred Ward, Jean Smart, Ethan Embry

PRODUCER: Stokely Chaffin, Neal Moritz

DIRECTOR: Andy Tennant

SCRIPT: C. Jay Cox, Douglas J. Eboch (story)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Dunn

EDITOR: Troy Takaki, Tracey Wadmore-Smith

MUSIC: George Fenton

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clay A. Griffith

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 19, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE

VIDEO RELEASE: May 14, 2003 (Also on DVD)







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