Reviewed by: Kevin Burk
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Fred Ward, Mary Kay Place, Patrick Dempsey, Josh Lucas | Directed by: Andy Tennant | Produced by: Neal H Moritz, Stokely Chaffin | Written by: Douglas Eboch, C. Jay Cox, Andy Tennant, Rick Parks, Andrew Tennant | Distributor: Touchstone Pictures
“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.