Runaway Bride (1999)

reviewed by
Walter Frith


'Runaway Bride' (1999)
A movie review by Walter Frith
wfrith@cgocable.net
Member of the 'Online Film Critics Society'
http://www.ofcs.org

'Runaway Bride' is such a bad film that it's difficult to know where to begin. The poster for it certainly made it look like it was more interested in showing the physical attributes of its stars rather than their talents. Their smiles, their smirks, their way with each other that was all seen in 1990's 'Pretty Woman'. The mismatched man and woman who dislike each other at first but later fall in love in such an unconvincing manner that not only is it an insult to the audiences intelligence but takes two very serious subjects like prostitution (the background subject of 'Pretty Woman') and libelous journalism ( the background subject of 'Runaway Bride') and sugar coats them in a shameful manner. If you're going to make a film like this, why inflate it with such an overblown cast of characters who mean nothing to the story except to the actors playing them as well as the people calling the shots?

I think if you asked most movie audiences, they probably would have wanted to see a sequel to 'Pretty Woman' nine years after the original with more admirable qualities rather than another pairing of its two leading stars in a movie with different material. Look at 1997. The cast of 1988's 'A Fish Called Wanda' teamed up for 'Fierce Creatures' an abysmal attempt to go home again and capture the magic of the original chemistry that 'Wanda' was able to project. Better yet, how about a prequel to 'Pretty Woman' showing how the character's lives progressed into their eventual choices to make a living and eventually meeting each other. But no, director Garry Marshall chooses to take his skill that has never really amounted to anything above the level of television entertainment and make a movie that appeals only to a certain audience and has very little to offer to anyone else.

In 'Runaway Bride', Gere plays Ike Graham, a journalist for USA Today who writes a story that causes a firestorm of controversy. His source, an intoxicated guy in a bar, tells Ike that there's a woman in small-town America named Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) who has developed a habit of being a man-eater. She has allegedly dumped several would be grooms at the altar and earned the nick name "runaway bride" because she literally runs away, bridal dress and all and one incident shows here managing to escape on a horse at full charge. After writing an anti-female article that knocks Maggie at every turn, women rap Ike on the head with a copy of the newspaper as he walks the big city streets and his editor and ex-wife (Rita Wilson) fires him after she says that the stuff he wrote is "actionable" on the part of its subject. Determined to stand by his story win vindication for himself and investigate Maggie herself, Ike travels to her small town and encounters its culture with all of its people and, of course, Ike and Maggie fall in love but do they stay together? You'll have to see for yourself.

'Runaway Bride' had me wanting to scream in disgust at many of the obvious phony scenes of a relationship that is not in the least bit convincing and its climax which involves the news of how the two leads lives turn out for the moment, has all of the films characters receiving the news one way or the other and projecting their reaction to it like you would react to a plot twist in your favourite soap opera. To further complicate things, there are even some in-jokes about 'Pretty Woman' which aren't even funny.

The most manipulative film in the last ten years is 1989's 'Dead Poets Society' which saved itself by giving the audience an original story to fall back on and the outcome was both believable and flowed naturally and didn't look manufactured. When a film can manipulate its audience and disguise it as genuine entertainment, it's still sort of a cheat but at least it can make up for its shortcomings by injecting a sense of convincing traits. The manipulation here is both obvious with no redeeming qualities and a style similar to fast food which is digested quickly and forgotten even faster.

OUT OF 5 > * 1/2

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* * * * * - a must see
* * * * 1/2 - don't miss it
* * * * - an excellent film
* * * 1/2 - a marginal recommendation
* * * - can't quite recommend it
* * 1/2 - don't recommend it
* * - avoid it
* 1/2 - avoid it seriously
* - avoid it AT ALL COSTS
1/2 - see it at your own risk
zero - may be hazardous to your health

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