My Best Friend’s Wedding

My Best Friend’s
by P.J. Hogan (written by Ronald Bass) is not as awful as I expected
it to be, given that it stars my least favorite actress, Julia Roberts, as
Julianne, the gal who discovers she’s
in love with a man she thought was her best friend when he announces
he’s getting married to another. Miss
Roberts is, to be sure, predictably unconvincing as an actress, especially as
she is supposed to be a sort of intellectual and a food critic, and her presence
in the picture is an all-but fatal flaw. Moreover, she is so without charm that
she lacks the reservoir of goodwill necessary to overcome our disgust with the
despicable things she does to win back her man, Michael (Dermot Mulroney), from
the dazzling Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz).

As if all this were not enough, the scenario suffers from the further
disadvantage of the fact that
Mulroney’s character is rather a pig.
He carries on what Dr. Laura would call
intimate conversations with Julianne in
Kimmy’s presence, engages in in-jokes
and reminiscences with her which exclude his devoted fiancée, and, worst
of all, makes her sing in a karaoke bar when she does not want to and, in fact,
is completely tone deaf. This is not a young man which any sensible girl would
think of marrying for a moment.

But two things save the movie from the scrap-heap of recent romantic junk.
One is Miss Diaz, who really is dazzling and who plays a woman who is
determined, in spite of the considerable disincentive of the boorishness
mentioned above, to be
to her husband-to-be in his career instead of going her own way. This
determination takes her even to the point of dropping out of the University of
Chicago in her senior year. I didn’t
think it was possible to show such a woman in even a semi-sympathetic light in
today’s Hollywood. The second saving
grace is Rupert Everett, who does a wonderfully funny turn as
Julianne’s gay friend George, with
whom she briefly tries to make Michael jealous.

It is George’s touch of anarchic
humor which bespeaks the presence of the talented Mr Hogan
), who is otherwise
cabin’d and confined by his thralldom
to a weak script and an even weaker star. A gay pretending to be straight (he
loudly announces to Kimmy’s family
that he has come to Chicago as
Julianne’s fiancé for
“a little pre-conjugal visit, if you
catch my drift” ) has some of the
piquancy of boys playing girls playing boys in
Shakespeare’s plays. But there is not
enough of him, or of the musical Hogan touch which he also introduces. For what
Abba was to Muriel’s
, old Burt Bachrach/Hal David songs from the 1960s are to My Best
Friend’s Wedding
. As
in the earlier film, the music is campy and postmodern in its use, but somehow
manages to be touching and open-hearted rather than arch and supercilious.
Likewise, the ending is unexpectedly satisfying, even touching. But
there’s not enough convincing acting
going on before we get to it.

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