My Best Friend's Wedding

Are all the Australians oddly obsessed with Abba or is this simply an antipodean aberration of the nineties?

Time goes by and people change. Youth is so wonderful with futures far ahead. So, it seemed like a little joke that Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) and Michael O'Neal (Dermot Mulroney) promised in college to marry each other if they were both still single at the age of 28. Neither one has thought much about the pact or taken it too seriously in the meantime. But now that they're both 28, Michael has asked someone else to marry him and Julianne gets upset. Wealthy Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz), the other woman, is as drab as her diminutive name sounds; even when she drops her mask, she's not very interesting. Julianne's editor, George (Rupert Everett), becomes a groaning board for his client's stumbling exploits and devious remedies and, as a result, has much of the best dialogue in the piece.

The appealing boyness/coyness, offset by the Stallone puppy-dog eyes and the twitching Elvis mouth, is not sufficient reason to explain why two apparently intelligent women are involved in such a battle of wits revolving around marriage to this object of their desires. Why, instead, don't they both simply become completely satisfied by bedding him. No prize, he, all benign shell. Of course, in the case of little Miss Muffet it could be her built-in family values that are the driving force, but our girl-about-town publisher runs around acting like she's suffering from a nasty case of childhood (or, at the outside, adolescent) reversion. I fear that Miss Roberts or her agent have decided that the actress must remain appealing and sympathetic no matter what the cost and no matter what the script. Unfortunately, such misplaced application also seems to have stunted her development since achieving star status as a Pretty Woman (and let's be honest, folks, Eric is just as pretty.) She gives an extremely polished performance as the best friend of an old flame, but misses out on all the opportunities in the script dialogue that could have been deliciously exploited by a young Bette Davis or Katie Hepburn. As a result, it remains a mildly interesting tale instead of an exciting fireworks display. The best parts are when Rupert Everett (the man who masks his past) makes his appearance as the gay friend-to-the-rescue of the damsel-in- pursuit-of-distress. The supreme moment of the film, however, is reserved for the surging flames in the restaurant's fireplace which blast audibly to announce Julianne's entrance as she heads toward Michael and Kimmy's table. By far the best performance in the whole.

Director P.J. Hogan, who made that wonderfully funny film Muriel's Wedding, doesn't quite hit the heights this time around. Writer Ronald Bass may have hoped for the madcap, but Lucy is dead. The characters involved in the proceedings (with the possible exception of the editor) make me believe that it would be more interesting to stay home and watch a plastic plate. Julianne is a predatory food critic, Kimmy is disgustingly rich, and Michael is beautifully sexy, so, If they're lives are supposed to be so exciting, why are they so dull?

If this is the game of love, count me out.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett