Reviewed by: Cheryl Sneeringer
Jules Potter (Julia Roberts) is a beautiful, independent, self-absorbed food critic who is chronically unwilling to commit to a man. She receives an urgent message from her former lover and best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney), a man with whom she had sealed a pact long ago-that if neither of them were married by their 28th birthdays, they would marry each other. Since they are both turning 28, she assumes he is calling to cash in on their agreement, and her first inclination is to deflect his offer of marriage. But when he announces that he has found someone else and has called to invite her to his wedding, she becomes determined to have him. She flies off to Chicago intent on breaking up the happy couple and winning back the man who had once been hopelessly in love with her.
I found this movie to be delightful entertainment. I grinned, I laughed, and I was even tempted to sing along (always a bad idea). And yet, when you look at the elements of the movie, it is surprising that it worked so well. None of the romantic characters are sympathetic: Jules is scheming, manipulative, and destructive. Michael is wooden and unimaginative, and the depth of his relationship with Jules is appropriately measured in millimeters. Michael’s fiancé Kimmie (Cameron Diaz) is giddy and shallow—the personification of the blonde joke. If this sad triangle were all we had to consider, then I believe the movie would have fizzled.
But the movie has one character with wit, imagination, and at least a measure of integrity—Jules' editor and confidante George (Rupert Everett), the stereotypical sensitive British gay man. Everett steals the show. Whenever he’s onscreen, the movie sparkles. His attempt to pose as Jules' playboy fiancé is hilarious.
Although I enjoyed this movie as entertainment, the worldview it portrays is hedonistic, self-centered, and very much contrary to God’s standard of marriage and morality. Casual, uncommitted sex is a way of life for these swinging singles. Truth, integrity, fair play—these are not even under consideration. At one point, when one of Jules' deceptions is discovered, she whines, “Getting what you deserve isn’t fair!”
The movie contains three uses of bad language, and one brief scene of Julia Roberts in her underwear. More distressing than that, however, is the point when the bridegroom is musing that this is the last time he will be alone with Jules and she responds, “Except for twice a year when we’ll meet for an affair…” This is an example of the low view of marriage and commitment held by these characters. If you allow your teenagers to see this movie, seriously consider discussing with them the attitudes toward marriage portrayed in this film (and challenge them to point these attitudes out to their young friends, as well).
Year of Release—1997