Movie Review: Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

Sweet home alabama movie poster

Plot:A young woman who’s reinvented herself as a New York socialite must return home to Alabama to obtain a divorce from her husband, after seven years of separation.

I wouldn’t want to be the woman who had to choose between Patrick Dempsey and Josh Lucas. It seems criminal to be faced with such a decision. This is what befalls Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon), a successful fashion designer in New York. When the lovely Andrew Hennings (Dempsey) proposes, Melanie, real-surname-Smooter, must head back to the place she’s been avoiding for the last couple of years like the plague, to get a divorce from her high school sweetheart Jake Perry (Josh Lucas), without alerting the press and Andrew’s mother, who just happens to be the mayor of NYC.

But naturally all is not as easy as it should be. Melanie is faced with the fact that she’s become an uppity Yankee snob, and an uncaring one at that. Jake has a lot of secrets, and he’s clearly not as over her as he wants her to believe. There are many people of her past that hasn’t forgotten the mayhem she caused in her life, and that they are comfortable with who they are despite not being upstate and fancy.

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So yes, I wouldn’t want to choose between the blue eyes of Josh Lucas and the warm charm of Patrick Dempsey. It would be SAD. This film is your basic romantic dramedy. There are some attempts at deepness – talk of a miscarriage and Jake knowing he would have to make a drastic change to win back his estranged wife, and lots of subliminal messages about just being yourself and not hiding away your past. There was also so much 2002 fashion in Witherspoon’s outfits that I had a grand time laughing at it – who would have thought that a mere fifteen years later the choker-fashion would return?

Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
 Reese Witherspoon and Patrick Dempsey
Credit: Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

I enjoyed Sweet Home Alabama. You need to walk in without too much expectations – this is just your basic enjoyable romance. A 7/10 for me.

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Movie Review: One Day (2011)

One day

Plot: After spending the night together on the night of their college graduation Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives. They are sometimes together, sometimes not, on that day.

Mind-numbing, soul-crushing, depressingly dreary, the undeniable stupidity of the human – in particular female – race.

This quote from Perks of Being a Wallflower “We accept the love we think we deserve”. That powerful, terrifying and thought-provoking phrase surely indicates that Emma (Anne Hathaway) does not think she deserves a good man.  Emma meets Dexter on the night of graduation. It’s the typical – she crushed on him hard, he’s ignorant to it. He’s had everything given to him in life and is as a result more open to adventures than Emma. Jim Sturgess’ considerable charm is not enough to make rooting for Dexter plausible.

Dexter is beautiful, charming, affluent and a B-grade celebrity in One Day. He’s a jerk, he can’t keep his pants up, and he mistreats his dying mother and concerned father. The only thing good about Dexter is Emma, who for whichever reason remains his friend after rejections and indifference and an unhealthy dose of selfishness from his part. They remain friends for years. She struggles to bloom but eventually reaches her dream of becoming a writer. Dexter, in contrast, loses his B-grade celebrity status because everyone thinks he’s annoying and falls into pit after pit of despair. But no – Emma never realizes that she deserves more. She’s still caught in that University fantasy about the gorgeous man falling for her. No relationship ever works out for her because remains attracted to Dexter. His shitty personality is marginally better when he’s with her, but he only becomes fully saved towards the end of the film, and by that time I just couldn’t care anymore about him.

The script of this film is largely the cause of its’ failure. There is a constant lack of information. Dexter’s mother wants to tell him something, we actually never hear what it was. Is this the cancer she later develops? Is it to tell him she thinks he’s a piece of shit? We aren’t privy to that information and we don’t get to see how it alters Dexter. Dexter’s father is an unsuccessful attempt to be a stoic-but-good man. He’s grouchy and has some moments where he ekes out wisdom, but for the most part he’s an empty character that does nothing for the story. Emma has no family apparently. I didn’t even reach a well of sympathy or gushiness for these characters – the script doesn’t allow you to get there.

Dexter is completely insufferable. Have I mentioned this?! He is the typical and often seen privileged private school kid without morals. I can’t root for him on principle. Not all privileged kids are jerks, but this one certainly is.

Anne Hathaway does her best with Emma, she truly does, but Emma remains a bland, boring and pathetic character without self-esteem and an unhealthy dose of masochism. Anne Hathway can’t pass as a Brit. That accent is off, she rounds her words way too much, and she’s just so American.

I felt like I spent a decade of my life watching this film. It is barely more than one hour and thirty minutes, but so insufferable I’d rather have spent my time watching paint dry.

This film is a drawn out mess about a woman who believes she can save a jerk from himself. The truth is here and that is what irritated me about this film so much – no person can change another person. A person can only change him/herself.

The thing is, I also get platonic relationships that are borderline romantic or full of tension. We all do. There will always be a friend that has the potential for more but there is something holding either of you back at various times. It happens. I just can’t understand why Emma remains friends with such an unredeemable man.

I’m done with this review now. I really hated this film. There are some things that worked – the washed out tones look gorgeous particularly. Other things didn’t work – and most particularly those ugly damn boots Emma insisted on wearing all the damn time.

If you’ve seen this movie, let me know if there is a support group of traumatized watchers helping each other cope with the damage. If you liked it, please do tell me what you liked. I would be VERY curious.

Rating: 4/10

Movie Review: Me Before You (2016)

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Plot: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of color. And neither of them knows they’re going to change each other for all time

Rating: 6/10

If you read my review of the book here, you’d know that I enjoyed the book. Me Before You is quite the controversial book with a whole lot of people being upset about the approach to both paraplegic patients and euthanasia. I’m definitely pro euthanasia, and while I certainly understand why people are against it, I DO feel that people often look at it from the survivor’s perspective and not from the patients’ perspective. This is however not a debate about that, so let’s talk rather about the film.

It lacks the personality of the book. Some filler information was left out of the film, which was a good thing because there are times where the book does feel winding. It does leave out some things that should have been included though – you are never privy as to why the bond between Lou and Will becomes so strong. You also never see how sick and uncomfortable Will is, and how much he lost after his accident. Despite the impressive acting from Sam Claflin, he still at times comes across as a petulant rich white kid in a wheel chair, which isn’t what Will was in the books.

I did like that the relationship between Will’s mother and father is much better in the film. The book has them on the edge of divorce and I think that the story has enough melodrama without a crumbling marriage as well.

I didn’t like that they underplayed the difficult relationship Lou has with her sister. They are basically frenemies in the books, and turned into besties in the film. Lou’s home life is pretty bleak in the books, and apart from the discussion of some financial woes, you never really get to understand how much Will changed Lou’s life.

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The two main characters were well cast. I find Sam Claflin a really accomplished actor and he is able to bring Will to life as much as the script writers allowed him too. I had some issues with Emilia Clarke – her facial expressions were all over the show. She did manage to be Lou though, and I liked that.

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I loved the adaption of this scene! Really exactly what I imagined in the book. It was sweet and hilarious and showed the difference between Will and Lou’s frankly terrible and egotistical boyfriend.

Why the low rating you ask when I keep mentioning the things I liked? I thought it didn’t reach the emotional depths of the book, it didn’t show us why the two characters became so attached, it never really displayed how much Will actually lost after his accident. Basically if you see this film you will be a little sad, sure, but reading the book broke my heart in the way only a really good story can. What I’m trying to say here is that Me Before You is not a terrible adaption, but it does lack the heart to make it truly heartbreaking.

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