Benjamin Barry is an advertising executive and ladies' man who, to win a big campaign, bets that he can make a woman fall in love with him in 10 days. Andie Anderson covers the "How To" beat for "Composure" magazine and is assigned to write an article on "How to Lose a Guy in 10 days." They meet in a bar shortly after the bet is made.
Ike Graham has his own by-lined column in USA Today, which he usually uses as a forum to rail against the opposite sex. For his latest column which he writes at the last minute as usual, he, based on some information from a stranger in a bar about a woman he knows of back home, includes the story of still single Hale, Maryland residing Maggie Carpenter, who is known as the "Runaway Bride" since she has been engaged multiple times, but always leaves her betrothed standing at the altar. Because an incensed Maggie complains to the newspaper for factual inaccuracies in her story, Ike is fired, but he realizes that the story still has some life in it and thus decides to go to Hale to do further investigation. He finds that Maggie is again engaged, now for the fourth time, this time to high school football coach and adventurist Bob Kelly, who is confident enough in himself to know he will be different than the previous three grooms. When Maggie finds out that her arch enemy Ike is in town, ... Written by
I found "Pretty Woman" charming, and I suppose I still do, but in one respect its storyline is contrived. (In ONE respect? I hear you ask. Well, maybe more than one, but only one that worries me.) This much of the standard formula a light love story MUST follow: (a) boy falls in love with girl, (b) girl falls in love with boy, (c) obstacle, (d) union. Timing is surprisingly unimportant. It doesn't matter when (c) is established - it can be before the curtain rises, or half an hour before it falls - nor does it matter if (a) and (b) are simultaneous, or over an hour apart. (And obviously it doesn't matter which one comes first. Even the order c-b-d-a is acceptable.) The trouble with "Pretty Woman" is (c). So she's a prostitute. So what? It's a pity that twentieth-century writers have somehow acquired the idea that external obstacles are less interesting than internal ones: it isn't true, and in any event, internal obstacles are harder to draw convincingly.
Which is why (FINALLY, I get to the point) "Runaway Bride" is a more pleasant confection than "Pretty Woman". Believe me, you don't know how surprised I am to find myself writing this. Before I saw the movie I was all but certain it would be deathly stale. The premise - love blossoms between an insulting newspaper columnist and a serial jilter he writes about - screamed, "This will spend two hours going nowhere" at me ... and the curious thing is, now that I've seen the film, I can't even remember why I found the idea so unpromising. Maybe I was unduly swayed by the last Julia Roberts romantic comedy I saw, "I Love Trouble", which was at once thin, bloated, and flat.
"Runaway Bride" is none of these things. It's over two hours, but none of this is bloat: it takes its time because it NEEDS this time, given obstacle (c), to convincingly establish (a) and (b). The film doesn't waste our time any more than it wastes our own. I was never bored; very often I was even basking in the glow. Tastes in romantic comedy are hard to justify or defend, so I'll leave it at that.
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