Runaway Bride

"I want to get married. No, I don't!"
"I want to get married. No, I don't!"
"I want to get married. No, I don't!"
"I want to get married. No, I don't!"
"Do I want to get married. I'm not sure. Or am I?"

That, in short, is the story of this romantic movie that brings together the charged-up "sparks" of Gere and Roberts.

© Buena Vista International
© Paramount Pictures and Touchstone Pictures/Interscope
Communications with Lakeshore Entertainment
Ike Graham (Richard Gere) is a reporter looking for a scoop, a kind of Mr. Lonelyhearts with a carefree, cavalier way of looking at life. With an hour left to deadline (is it that late already?), he makes the brave decision to dive into his local bar and, hopefully, find some inspiration. His hopes are more than rewarded when one of his drinking buddies tells the tale of the runaway bride. Her last exit, as we have already seen during the opening credits, was on horseback. No man has managed to get her further than the church. All of which goes to prove that you can lead this girl to the altar, but you can't make her wink. Graham, a bred in the bone (so to speak) reporter, decides this potential old wives' tale is good enough for his column. It appears in the next edition, but when it comes to the attention of the prissy young Maryland missy, she threatens to sue the newspaper. It seems the weathered reporter might have been wise to check out all the facts before submitting it. Ike waves good-bye to his job and undefeatedly heads toward Hale, the hometown of Miss Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts). He is supported throughout this enterprise by ex-departmental head and good friend Fisher (Hector Elizondo). He figures that all he has to do is mark time, keep a record, and watch Miss Carpenter as she goes through the motions preparing her next wedding, which, as a matter of fact, is already on the way. If she runs, which Ike's sure she will, he will get both an entertaining story and his job back.

The reporter's charming manner and enchanting smile (you've seen it in other films) wins the hearts of the townspeople who openly reveal any and all details that they can regarding the lady with the largest collection of engagement rings in town. Never do they hesitate in the least to tell all, despite the fact that little Miss Wedless is supposedly a good friend of theirs. Even her father is not beyond making a good joke at her expense whenever opportunity allows (like, say, at wedding receptions).

The curvaceous Miss Carpenter not only holds a track record (most-unwed-one-minute-mile), but is also a capable kick boxer and sublime modern lighting designer, which, of course, make her ultimately a shining example of dangerous womanhood (and a desirable catch to boot). She could probably conquer New York City with her designs, but can't manage to make the leap into independence or individuality.

Graham has a slanted point-of-view on women, probably enhanced by a past divorce from his ex-boss and editor-in-chief Ellie (Rita Wilson), and a slight hint of misogyny in his character (, despite the smile). His ex-wife and ex-boss is, by the way, married to his ex-departmental head and friend Fisher; nevertheless, he's still smiling.

Of course (if you haven't guessed yet), things start to get a bit messy when Mr. Graham becomes enchanted by Miss Carpenter and vice versa. Where will this all lead? Will she ever hang up her dirty sneakers and settle into a nice white gown? And, more important, where will these two actors find themselves in their next endeavor? Having moved from bad girl goes good when good man acts bad in "Pretty Woman" to catch the brassy bride before she bolts from the building in "Runaway Bride", one can almost imagine that the next time around, probably in another ten years, they'll be appearing as a married bourgeois couple living in the suburbs with fourteen children smiling and washing the dirty nappies in "Pretty Gritty".

Let's face it, nobody in their right mind would put up with a woman who had already run out on the groom (at the wedding, no less) on four previous occasions. And if they're stupid enough to take on the challenge, they deserve the repercussions.

A spoonful of sugar makes the wedding vows go down.

Joan Cusack shines in her role (as she does on occasion) as Peggy, the happy, mildly attractive, gentle, humorous, and understanding friend. She enjoys her own special moment when she rather appropriately discusses the difference between a weird and quirky personality. She manages to add some depth to the otherwise random shallows of the script.

Director Garry Marshall knows how match up all the ingredients in order to bowl the audience over. Love, beautiful people, love, humorous people, love, down-to-earth people, love, urban and rustic people, love, weddings and lots of funny dialogue. There are, as usual in any Marshall film, some fantastic one- liners (such as the comment of Hector Elizondo as Julia Roberts rides away down the road in a van.) Weddings may prove a delight to all who watch them (as Marshall himself admits), but they're not a sure bet. Astounding and unexpected as the success of that other film, which included four weddings (forgetting the funeral for the moment), may have been, this film has not ensured itself an equally astounding reception by adding one more wedding to the list. Yes, when all is said and done, this movie has five weddings, folks, but that in itself would have proven to be a less interesting title. On the other hand, it's a Garry Marshall film, so it's bound to be a runaway success.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett