Sweet Home Alabama

Yesterday my sister and I went to see the new Reese Witherspoon film, Sweet Home Alabama. It’s mildly enjoyable, if you check your brain at the door. I’m not saying the film is stupid, but it is cliched, and nothing surprising happens at any point in time. With one exception involving Ethan Embry, but that’s only to set up a number of jokes much later in the film.

The premise is fairly simple: New York fashion designer gets engaged to the mayor’s politically rising son, but she’s been separated (though not divorced) from her husband back home in Alabama for the past seven years, so she returns home in an effort to finalize their divorce proceedings, only to find herself in touch with the very things she turned her back on seven years before. Plot complications ensue–she lied about part of her past, the Mayor wants to know exactly who she is, there’s some trouble with the divorce paperwork. The ending, frankly, comes as no surprise, especially when a strange little man suddenly appears for no good reason. At that point you realize that what everyone in the film had taken to be a settled plot point wasn’t settled at all, and what kind of fun is it to be seven steps ahead of the film? The trouble is there’s nothing extraneous, no red herrings, but because the film doesn’t ever do anything original or creative in its storytelling, the final product feels amiable but unremarkable.

I haven’t been to many films where the audience cheers. Star Trek II may be the only time I’ve witnessed the audience cheering the credits or something spectacular on the screen. Until Sweet Home Alabama. Why the audience felt the need to cheer at the wedding scene I have no idea. I can’t say that moment of the film was surprising or spectacular, because it wasn’t. Merely cliched.

One or two plot points don’t make a whole lot of sense, and there’s the nagging question of why if they were separated for seven years and her husband had ignored the divorce papers several times in the past why she didn’t simply attempt to force the divorce earlier due to their lengthy separation, rather than waiting until she simply had no other choice than to make a last-ditch attempt at getting the papers signed. Oh, wait, that means there wouldn’t have been a movie because the initial plot complication would have already been settled, silly me….

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