Today’s Prayer Focus

Sweet Home Alabama

MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for some language/sexual references.

Reviewed by: Kevin Burk

Moral Rating: Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Teens Adults
Genre: Romance Comedy
Length: 2 hr. 4 min.
Year of Release: 2002
USA Release:
Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama
Featuring Reese Witherspoon, Fred Ward, Mary Kay Place, Patrick Dempsey, Josh Lucas
Director Andy Tennant
Producer Neal H Moritz, Stokely Chaffin
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures (a division of Disney). Trademark logo.
Touchstone Pictures
, a division of Walt Disney Studios

“Sweet Home Alabama” is the latest entry in the slew of romantic comedies delivered each year—some entertaining, som not. As an upbeat, romantic film “Home” succeeds fairly well and keeps the audience entertained for two hours. But it is unfortunately a part of the Hollywood trend to produce comedies on the more raunchy side.

Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) is an up-and-coming New York fashion designer who has just received a proposal of marriage from her boyfriend Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), who just happens to be Secretary of Housing and son of the N.Y. mayor (Candace Bergen). Unfortunately, though Melanie says yes, she has some unfinished business back home in Alabama. Namely, she’s still married to (but estranged from) childhood sweetheart, Jake (Josh Lucas). In addition, she’s ashamed of her “white trash” past and wants to hide it from her fiance and future mother-in-law. “Home” is full of, as you might expect, Southern jokes which pretty much hit their mark. But, surprisingly, the film doesn’t turn the Alabama characters into two dimensional movie hicks or rednecks. While acknowledging some of the Southern eccentricities, Melanie’s old friends are portrayed as being much more three-dimensional “real” people than just cardboard cutout characters. This is refreshing and very much worked in favor for the film. The Southerners do manage to take some potshots at the snooty, posh Yankees that come to visit for the wedding. After a series of conflicts with Jake, including lots of reminiscing about the life she left behind in Alabama, Melanie must decide which life she will ultimately choose to live.

While “Sweet Home Alabama” is entertaining, the moral content of the film leaves something to be desire. There is unnecessary bad language, sexual humor and, of course, the token homosexual characters (once again using humor to try to desensitize moviegoers to convince them that such behavior is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle). In the end, it is very nice to see a film where an estranged married couple manages to work out their differences and patch up their relationship. But, because of the other objectionable content, I can at best give this film a marginal thumbs up for Christians.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—This was a movie that I had been anticipating, due to its cutesy promos and also based on the fact I really enjoyed Witherspoon’s previous work in “Legally Blonde.” However, while that movie was bright and fresh, this movie seemed incredibly average. Yes, I enjoyed it as a break from the stress of university, but found nothing special about it that would make “Home” stick out from other romantic comedies that aren’t really that funny or all that romantic. The swearing and crude humour were unneccessary. As well, I was incredibly disappointed that the directors felt they needed to add homosexuality as “comic relief” or some form of “enlightenment”. Such a lifestyle will never be acceptable no matter how many times it is shoved into our faces.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
Kim, age 19
Positive—Sweet Home Alabama was a great movie. I was offended by occasional negative language, but overall it was a wonderful portrayal of real-life situations and how can learn from our mistakes and misfortunes (as well as learn from others’ mistakes). It makes us stop and think what is worth more, money and fame… or family and the little things in life that make it all worth it! There were great discussion topics for the younger crowd to discuss in a small group. It brought LOTs of laughs!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
Kristi, age 23
Positive—Yes, there was language and drinking in this movie but where is it not? There is the situation of teen pregnancy and HAVING to get married but Praise God they didn’t abort the baby or even mention the idea. “Nature took care of itself” I believe was the comment made. The couple admitted they made a mistake. All in all, it was a sweet movie and my 13 yr old daughter and 3 of her friends and myself REALLY enjoyed the movie. We all cheered and clapped at the end when the marriage was saved!! Hopefully, Reese Whitherspoon will realize what a “following” of young girls she has a continue to make descent (not perfect) movies and we all LOVED “Jake”!! Fun, heartwarming movie.
Sandy, age 37
Negative—I rate this negative because I was expecting more. It was certainly cute and Reese Witherspoon is adorable, but that makes you miss all of the sins she is guilty of, or somehow makes them okay. Her fiance is seen to be a man of honor with character and forgiveness. She, on the other hands, lies about her past, neglects to tell him she is still married, and lies about why she is going down to Alabama. She ran out 7 years okay and not only cut off contact with her husband, but also with her parents.

Basically in 3 days of being back she gets back her southern roots and decides that’s right for her and her abandoned husband is right for her. Southern culture is a main focus of the movie, but the strong church relationship that exists in rural Alabama is ignored.

While the marriage redemption story may play well to Christian audiences, it should be noted that after she felt she was divorced and while she was engaged to another man, she did start to passionately kiss her ex-husband and it probably would have led to the bedroom if he didn’t stop it. In my book that’s cheating on the man she was going to marry. 3 days does not undo 7 years of abandonment on top of the unsolved problems of why she left in the first place.

**WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD** The poor fiance is used and discarded even to the point of having his family pay for a large wedding that is then used to have a celebration with the Reese Witherspoon and her estranged husband. Bad news in many ways.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
Bill Bagot, age 37
Negative—This movie was very disappointing, a waste of time, and an affront to my Christian morals. First off, there was taking of the Lord’s name in vain in all different kinds like CRAZY!! Then, there was gay stuff, materialism, sensual jokes, and dirty humor. Lastly, she ended up with the wrong guy (the other one was much more moral and gallant even though he did have a lot of money and hookups which usually is meant to make the audience dislike him). This was a definite waste of money. If you’re in want of a good, clean, moral, “romantic”, chick flick, get Pride and Prejudice” or “A Walk to Remember” or something but don’t bother with this shallow one! (Even if it was clean it is pretty shallow and unrealistic).
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
Brittany Mueler, age 22
Positive—It was so awesome! I just love the movie! It seemed to have a great plot and wonderful moral ideals! It is better than kids going out and drinking and all! Teens should have a movie they can see and relate to! We are to be in the world but not of it and this movie seemed to believe that too!
My Ratings: [5]
Marlene Nox, age 69
Positive—I really enjoyed this picture! The profanity wasn’t that bad, and the story was interesting. I don’t think there was anything wrong with the gay character, and I am entitled to this opinion. I am a Christian, and I think it was a good movie with a positive message.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
Luke, age 23
Negative—Very disappointing! How can a movie receive a favorable rating when God’s holy name is thrown around as trash. Numerous “Oh My God’s,” a few “Jesus!” and one “Christ Almighty” were what I heard before walking out…
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2½]
Elaine, age 55
Neutral—I saw this movie with a few girlfriends and we left smiling and wishing it wasn’t over. There were homosexual references made, but not much. I noticed a lot of light foul language with some of the characters. There were several statements of “Oh My God” used throughout the movie. There is drinking and also a scene where the characters are talking about their teen pregnancy. Overall, I thought it was a good movie for adults and older teens.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
Cindy, age 40
Positive—The storyline dealt with the sanctity and endurance of marriage commitment, honoring parents, kindness to others, maturing, putting others first, tenderheartedness, the consequences of lying, and forgiveness. Earthy, but with many redeeming qualities. God is the God of second chances.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
Terry Appleby, age 59
Positive—Sweet Home Alabama had an excellent plot with a very Romantic edge. The comedy part also had the audience laughing aloud. There was no sex, nudity or drugs, so basically the only thing counted to be offensive would be the language. I would recommend this to anybody who wants to walk away smiling, cheerful and full of romantic spirit. It was Awesome!!!…
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
Kristin Burns, age 18
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie. It was funny, cute and it kept your attention. The swearing in this movie isn’t bad. There is quite a few uses of the “b” word and some of the “sh” word but nothing worse then that. The one thing that bugged me about this film was they threw in the use of the Lord’s name in vain too many times. This could’ve been a very cute clean movie without the use of Jesus’s name throughout. There was also a gay man in it but it was quite humourous… overall this was a very funny movie and if they took out the uses of the Lord’s name it would be awesome.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
Andrea, age 18
Movie Critics
…Some sexually related dialogue is uttered, a couple makes out, the protagonist admits to getting married in the past due to being pregnant, and several characters are noted as being gay…
…1 sexual reference, 9 scatological terms, 12 anatomical terms, 26 mild obscenities, 23 religious exclamations…
…This movie has a moral worldview that’s friendly to the South and surprisingly critical to snooty Yankee Democrats, but it contains some politically correct homosexual references and lots of mostly light foul language…
Dr. Tom Snyder, Movieguide
Comments from young people
Positive—This was a great movie with a sweet romantic twist. It was light hearted and except for the one homosexual character (who didn’t really have a part in the movie) it was a great movie to go see. Reese Witherspoon was great for this character and makes it believeable. Two thumbs up!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
Ashley, age 17
Positive—Sweet Home Alabama was a funny movie. I loved it. There was some objectionable material, such as, the language mostly and also the one scene at Melanie’s fashion show, where the women could have had a little more “shirt” in the front. Other than that the movie was extremely good. I had a smile on my face when I left and was exceptionally happy with the production.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
Carolyn, age 17
Positive—I thought that this was a very cute movie. Although I will admit that it did start off slow it got much better towards the end. Reese Witherspoon was so cute movie, and so was the guy who plays her ex. There was very little language in this movie and made it comfortable to watch with my mother. I would definitely pay to see this movie again.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
Sara, age 16
Positive—I thought that this movie was alright. It had a lot of language in it and some sexual remarks, but overall it was cute. If you just want to go to a movie and leave with a smile, this is the movie for you!
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
Kelsey, age 15
Positive—This is an okay movie, I wouldn’t say it is the best movie of the year. But it is pretty funny and has a good story. (Feel-good movie.) It is fairly predictable and is sort of a chick flick, but I know most will like this movie!
My Ratings: [Good / 3]
Cassie, age 13
Positive—Good, romantic comedy, I’d have to say, well done! Jokes against the “yankees” are small, but they are there. Only to make the production a little more interestingly funny. There are few homosexual references, but not many. 11 year olds-adults would probably find this the most amusing.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
Sarah, age 13
Positive—“Sweet Home Alabama”… the first word of the title really describes EXACTLY what this movie is. It’s sweet, refreshing, completely and very romantic, too! ;) I LOVED this movie… Reese Witherspoon has ALWAYS been one of my favorite actresses and now that she’s in this, she’s at the top of my list. :) I loved this movie! Go see it!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
Anna Arango, age 11