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Glad I listened to my instinct, not the critics. A fine and funny movie!
TxMike6 February 2003
Ever hear of the story of crying "wolf?" Most of the extra forceful reviews of "Sweet Home Alabama" are the professional and amateur reviewers that try to tell us, "stay away, this is a waste of your time, do not see it." Bull-dinkey! They are just crying "wolf" for some unknown reason. This is a fine, funny movie that relies more on an ensemble cast than just on Reese Witherspoon. The writing is smart and funny, the directing fits the comedic mood of the story, and the acting is just right. Although it is a quite different film from "Legally Blonde" and "Election", I enjoyed it just as much, and will enjoy it upon repeat viewings.

no SPOILERS here...

Critic Ebert has a good summary of the story so I won't repeat any of it here. For those who may see the film and wonder how much the small town life is exaggerated, let me tell you "not much!" I grew up in a very small southern town, and I go back on occasions for high school reunions. What is depicted in this film is pretty darned close to reality, with some license taken for making the story a bit more interesting. Pay special attention to the story with the cat, and its burned tail, and watch closely at the end. :-)

The DVD is fine but the picture is not "reference" quality. The sound is Dolby 5.1 but surround channels are not very dynamic. The "extras" has several deleted scenes, and also includes the original ending that was scrapped after comments from test screenings. They had to re-shoot and I think the eventual ending is very appropriate. The first and last scenes complement each other very well.

"Sweet Home Alabama" - a fine movie for those who enjoy a good comedy, and especially those who like Reese Witherspoon.
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10/10
I can't seem to stop watching this film...
Elle Andrews19 September 2005
I was surprised to find the rating when I first checked it out, but I suppose it's a matter of personal experience and the taste that goes with it. I like to be reminded of my own personal experience (which is similar) and compare it to what the main character goes through in the movie. I suppose you'll like it if it means something to you, so if you've got issues with your past (relationships, particularly) and you like happy endings, give this film a shot. There's a bit of stereotyping in the film though, but they're presented humorously, so I didn't really mind. Besides, they aren't very damaging stereotypes (at least in my view), nor very annoying ones.
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5/10
Reese Witherspoon as a smart, sassy blonde? Hard to believe, I know.
Rob Fadley8 December 2004
I cannot envision anyone but Reese Witherspoon as Melanie, a snooty-but-lovable up-and-coming New York City fashion designer from Alabama who receives a marriage proposal from the prominent, well-bred son of the mayor of New York. Of course, this means that she must go back to the small town where she was raised to demand a divorce from Jake (Josh Lucas) - seven years after walking out on him.

Aside from being a love story, this film shows us that you cannot escape your past, no matter how hard you try. Everywhere she turns Reese's character is beset by the people and events of her youth. Old friends seem almost compelled to reminisce about their youthful escapades. She just cannot seem to get away from it. You really get a sense of how she must feel when you see her in the honky-tonk bar, surrounded by rednecks with no visible exit.

Witherspoon is right at home in the role as a smart, sassy young woman ala 'Legally Blonde'. However the real star of the show is Josh Lucas. His expressive face lends an authenticity to Jake that transcends the stereotypical former football star and produces a charismatic, likable guy who just wants to win back his girl. But if it is stereotypes that you want, they are there to be found. Most prominent is the mother of Reese's fiancé, played by Candice Bergen. She is one tough politician who is as cold as ice and predictably obsessed with her public image. Others include the independent, feminist girlfriend, the redneck buddies and a gay fashion designer.

Director Andy Tennant also likes to deal with some classic historical and societal conflicts in this movie, such as the North versus the South. In addition to numerous Yankee/redneck jokes, Witherspoon's dad (Fred Ward) is involved in the regular reenactment of a Civil War battle. Tennant also seems to be a fan of love's ability to prevail in the face of these conflicts. His film 'Ever After' has a similar theme – it deals with the struggle between nobility and commoner during medieval times. Specifically, it is about a Prince who falls in love with a peasant girl. Despite the odds, their love overcomes this obstacle.

If you like romantic comedies, you should like this film. Despite its flaws this movie is upbeat, entertaining and it comes with a lesson about the futility of trying to escape your past that might prove invaluable to some audience members.
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6/10
Home is where the heart is
Kristine27 October 2006
I found Sweet Home Alabama to be a very sweet romantic comedy, Reese Witherspoon was just so adorable in this film. I wanted to see Sweet Home Alabama because I love Reese and remember hearing so much about it when it was released. So, of course, I figured now would be a good time to rent it and find out what this movie was about. Over all, I'd say it was a bit over rated(everyone I knew who saw this movie loved it), but still a watchable romantic comedy.

Sweet Home Alabama is about a girl, Melanie, she is about to marry the mayor of New York city's son. But she has a bit of a bumpy past in the south where her family and old friends are, she's still married to Jake, her high school sweetheart. Without trying to bring up her embarrassing past to her fiancée, she has to get things done and settled with everyone, including her husband. But she slowly discovers how much she missed her true home and how much of a wonderful guy that Jake is.

A bit predictable and silly, but over all I would recommend Sweet Home Alabama for a lite comedy that most could enjoy. Like I said, it's not that big of a deal, but I love Reese Witherspoon personally, so you might disagree, but then again, how will you know if you don't give the movie a shot? So, sit back and just have fun!

6/10
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1/10
Sweet my a$$-typical Hollywood schlock
girlgeek10 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
How could anyone like this movie? I avoided this movie because I thought it would be merely fluff, but a girlfriend brought it over for movie night, so I decided to give it a try. While I generally love Reese Witherspoon in many movies (Election and Freeway are awesome) neither she nor the other good actors could rescue the bad story, two-dimensional characters and poor writing in this trite movie. C'mon gals, do women really act like this? Would you treat good people who love you like that? No way. Why do male screenwriters decide to portray us like this anyway? At the end of the movie I said out loud, "This must have been written by a man". Sure enough: (Story By, Screenplay By, Directed By) all men.

**SPOILER** Additionally, I am getting sick and tired of the leave-them-at-the-alter-but-we-can-still-be-friends? overused storyline. Why is it considered romantic to treat another good person who loves you in such a cruel manner? It seems that disregard for kindness, decency and public humiliation is the best romantic story in today's vapid Hollywood boardrooms. This woman is rude and cruel to good people. She says and treats people horribly and we are supposed to believe that if she says "I'm sorry y'all" or gets a little weepy that this is good enough for 100% redemption? As a viewer, this was a hard pill to swallow. She lies to the man she loves in both cases; runs away when times are tough ("for good times and bad, til death do us part" yeah right); publicly humiliates her friends (several times); betrays confidences that in the deep south could mean life or death--Give me a break! I believe that you should be able to empathize with the protagonist, but I found that I hated her and the story. Why do we choose to be spoon-fed this insipid crap? I think that as moviegoers paying good money that we need to be a little more critical when a bad story, bad dialog and unbelievable situations arise in movies.
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3/10
Concerning
cam6124713 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This film had good intentions I guess, but it didn't really come off that way to me. This film is about a woman who is about to marry a nice guy politician from New York but has to go home and divorce her ex-husband who refuses to sign the papers. The films general message is that success and being rich in life aren't important, having babies, cooking, getting drunk and pottering about doing not much is what life's about. I'm not so arrogant as to say it's a wrong message, I am a lazy person, it agrees with me! But the problem starts with the fact you are supposed to love this up herself girl who comes back and insults her former friends and you just don't find that happening. This film tries to twist and surprise you which it doesn't do and you find her transition, jumpy and forced, instead of a steadily realisation she just seems to wake up or click instantly into this next stage of realisation (after punching a woman in the face.. hmmm.. our heroine suddenly develops a very strong south American accent and this quick transition comes across as purely ridiculous.

You find yourself majorly worried by the immoral (inevitable) walking out on a really nice guy at the altar, who is just supposed to accept that because of Witherspoon's nice smile (which he does "oh my heart's broken I think I am OK with you leaving bye"). Classic old school romantic comedies at least had the decency to make the other man a git, or at least plotting or not wanting to marry her themselves. I would comment on the blatant racist north America south America overtones but I don't really know enough about this to comment. Not bad acting performances from all the cast despite the script and plot.

Life is short but not so short you should avoid watching this film, after all it's a feel good film.
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Reese Witherspoon sweet performance makes this work
DunnDeeDaGreat21 February 2003
Reese Witherspoon terrific heartfelt performance makes this movie work. I originally had my doubts about seeing this one but I bought the DVD and I highly enjoyed the movie. Reese Witherspoon has good chemistry with both Patrick Dempsey and Josh Lucas. The film although predictable is full of funny moments and a lot of heart.
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1/10
Probably the worst movie that I've ever seen
Robert Morgan11 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Just for the record, I generally obtain some level of enjoyment from almost every movie that I watch, including plenty that the critics disparage.

This movie, however, is different. It's a waste of precious time that could be better spent picking fluff from your navel, cutting toenails, or doing something that's less unpleasant than watching this.

I humbly suggest that the balance of positive reviews on IMDb and elsewhere is NOT an indication that this is an OK movie - it's more likely an indication of failings in our education systems and culture that leave many people unaware of depth in any story, even one of lightweight and innocent amusement. Yes, I'm annoyed, and it shows.

The script deserves a special category at the Oscars ("and the award for most nauseatingly predictable screenplay goes to...") and the glib lack of any depth and credibility in the characters is an insult to any audience. I'd also concur with the many other reviewers who found some of the stereotypes bordering on offensive.

If you feel happy and mushy inside after watching this movie, there's no need to panic - but I'd pleadingly ask that you maybe try watching almost any other Reese Witherspoon movie or, better still, go read a good book or two.
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6/10
A charming and funny comedy movie.
cineasten8921 March 2005
I am glad I didn't listen to critics and watched this movie! It is a very good movie with charm, humor, sadness and most of all, genial acting! Reese Witherspoon and Josh Lucas are the two characters that you can relate to. Especially the dog part is very fun. I think what makes this movie good is that it is a story you can relate to, but made with humor. Yet there are a part sadness in the story.

It begins with that Melanie is asked by the son of the mayor if she wants to marry him. Then she says yes, but she has things to make up and decides to go down to her hometown in Alabama to get a divorce from her husband who she hasn't met for years, not after she lost her child and he was drunk on their wedding.

The concept and plot is very smart, when the tone is told with humour even in situations that are serious. In fact, if the movie hadn't humor, it had been falling apart. The humor is lifting the story to a little more than just good. It is so fun, so full of genial and amusing characters, excellent acting and an excellent ending. Maybe a movie that mostly girls like to watch, but anyway a good movie.
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10/10
favorite movie!!!
lol21t21 July 2004
Everyone is taking this movie too seriously. It's my favorite chick flick movie. There is no violence, except when she hits the mayor, no drugs, sex and only a little bit of questionable language. And some of the accents are accurate, at least the ones from the people I know from Alabama. Plus, it's a MOVIE. It's so funny! I'm from NJ and I don't think it portrays the South in a bad light. It's not meant to be a serious movie, just something to make you laugh go awwwww. If anything it portrays New York as a crowded dirty place...and it is..but not everyone in New York is rude...um OK, maybe I take that one back. Anyway don't criticize it, it's just a romantic comedy and how many of them are actually worth watching??? Go Ethan Embry and Josh Lucas!!!
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10/10
Felony Melanie!!
dracosbitch7830 October 2005
Where do i start with this movie? Fantastic, had me hooked from the start, they were on to a winner as soon as they cast Dakota Fanning as 'young' Melanie. Now i'm a sucker for good 'chick Flicks' and this one tops my list, Reese shines as Melanie, the girl who realises that what she's been looking for was right there at home waiting for her. Josh Lucas makes a fabulous performance as Jake, her estranged high school Hubby who's never got her out of his mind. If you are in the mood for a good old fashioned romance with some great country thrown in then this is the one for you, i've lost count how many times i have seen this now and i'll never tire of it. Even if this isn't your kind of film i challenge you to watch it and not feel good, practically impossible.
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More Dopey Southerners
WinterMaiden18 May 2007
Yes, the South is different. But isn't it sad that the song "Sweet Home Alabama," which was written in the first place to object to sweeping generalizations about demon-Southerners (all Southerners being white, of course, in this anti-Southern view) is now gracing a movie that cozies right up to Southern stereotypes? (And for those objecting to the sentiments of the song, perhaps you should learn a little bit more about Lynyrd Skynard and Neil Young, and what that song actually said about their attitudes--and how Young responded. What Skynard meant by the song and how SOME of their audience have interpreted it over the years are two different things, just like Springsteen's "Born in the USA" has been used for political purposes that are the opposite of the song's sentiments.)

For people who think every white Southerner's favorite evening wear is a white sheet with burning cross as accessory, they can gloat over the stupid hicks in this film. For people who want to fantasize that we can still live in Mayberry, they can groove on how pretty it all is. (Mostly.) People see what they expect to see. (Except black folks, who'd better not expect to see black folks living in the Alabama of THIS movie.) Reese Witherspoon herself, a well-bred Episcopalian débutante from Nashville, is a negation of Southern stereotypes, and an example of the Southerners we never see as characters in movies.

Meanwhile the movie itself is so innocuous that it dissolves while you're watching it. I've been sitting through the unending USA Network commercials for their showing of the flick, and getting the impression that the only reason they're showing it is to piggyback on the popularity of Dr. McDreamy.

I suppose there are worse ways to spend an evening. But don't imagine that you're seeing anything to do with the actual South. Or actual human beings.
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1/10
This movie sucked
surgicalicu5 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
My girlfriend rented this movie so I had to watch it. I thought it was on of the sappiest and most contrived stories I have ever seen. It was full of holes, like there are ways of ending a marraige - you don't have to stay married for years against your will, and thats not a spoiler, its the basis for the entire plot. The dialog between characters was bland and uninspired. And I didn't find this movie one bit funny. The exchanges between Witherspoon and her ex were more annoying than humerous. Its definitly a chick flick - and a bad one.
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8/10
A great story of discovering ones self and realizing true love.
Kelly11 July 2006
"Sweet Home Alabama" is about a young woman, Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon), who is learning who she is. She must choice between her new life in New York City and the one she left behind in Pigeon Creek, Alabama. The theme of the film is that you can't be two different people; you have to be who you are. You have to face your life and your past and not pretend that you are someone you're not.

The city versus country motif is brought to life throughout the entire film in such actions as a civil war re-enactment, shooting anvils across the plantation yard, and a diverse, yet, predictable group of characters residing in Melanie's hometown. This is far from her world in New York City where she is a fashion designer, engaged to the mayor's son, Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey), and lives life in the fast lane.

The city versus country conflict begins when Melanie returns home to finalize her divorce from her lovable, redneck husband Jake Perry (Josh Lucas). The laughs continue when, much to Mayor Kate Hennings (Candice Bergen) dismay, Melanie and Andrew decide to have their wedding in Alabama. Mayor Hennings is a stiff, conservative ice queen. This makes the first meeting of the happy couples' parents, Mayor Hennings and Pearl and Earl Smooter (Mary Kay Place and Fred Ward), incredibly predictable, yet, still hilarious when you see it play out.

As she was in "Legally Blonde" and "Just Like Heaven", Witherspoon is sweet, smart, and sassy. She pulls you into the film, and you want to see her happy. She has great chemistry with both Jake and Andrew, which makes it difficult for viewers to decide which she should be with. Melanie, herself, can't decide who is for her until she decides who she is.

Director Andy Tennant masterfully uses music to contribute to the theme. With the use of songs such as "Sweet Home Alabama," "What This World Needs Is a Few More Rednecks," and "Marry Me," he transports you into the south. This music prompts you to root for the south and the southern girl who has just returned home. Tennant, also, impressively did not over use the song "Sweet Home Alabama." He used the song only in the situations were it would make the largest impact.

Tennant shows in "Sweet Home Alabama", as he did in "Ever After", that love just happens and we can't control love any more than we can control who we really are. In "Sweet Home Alabama", all of Melanie's problems seem to stem from the fact that she cannot face who she really is. Her father sum's up the theme of the movie in one statement, "You can't ride two horses with one ass, sugar bean."
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4/10
I was rooting against the lead.
EpeeBill14 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
By the 30 minute mark of this movie, I was completely revolted with the lead character. She was condescending and manipulative from the beginning, which is fine, a romantic comedy often has a story arch where a character learns and becomes a better person, thereby 'deserving' the love of their life.

But, after her big epiphany, the Melanie's big break through was that she was only manipulative. That's it. Still self-centered, still disinterested in anybody's feelings but her own. Still somebody I was rooting against.

I don't hold this against Reese Witherspoon, she did her best to make Melanie likable, but I just couldn't. The script was just that ridiculous. They had to turn Candace Bergan loose in full cartoon villain mode in order to make Melanie sympathetic, but it just didn't work. I found her characters motivations more honest, however misplaced, than Melanie's.
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2/10
OMG I hate this movie
lajwrites10 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
First let me say that I WANT to like this movie. I adore Reese Witherspoon, and I think she does a terrific job in this movie, and for that I want to like it. But OMG the storyline! It's infuriating! Truly, truly infuriating. I agree with another reviewer who wrote that this could only have been written by a man (and it was). Essentially, there's a girl who lives in a tiny town which would be best described as Dirthole, Alabama. She longs for a different life, so she leaves her husband (whom she married just out of high school because she was pregnant (lost the child, so no baby character to worry about)), she trots off to NY, makes a big name for herself as a fashion designer, and gets engaged to the mayor's son, who is not only sexy and hot but also exceedingly kind, generous, and nice. She has to journey back to AL to force her no good husband to sign the divorce papers she's been sending him for the past 7 years and which he has repeatedly refused to sign. While there, wouldn't you know it, she gets sucked back into the 'charm' of the crap hole that she left and the siren call of her ex's blue eyes. This movie totally ignores the fact that maybe this girl really does need something bigger and better than the miserable little town she came from, and it also totally ignores the fact that she managed to make something incredible of her dream. For that alone the authors should be punished. Furthermore, they imply that she's going to throw it all down the drain to return to Hillbilly land in order to reunite with her ex and his hound dog. WHY, is what I want to know. By writing this storyline, the authors suggest that Melanie's dream wasn't really a big deal, and they expect us to just accept their claim that her ex Mr. Blue-eyes is really the love of her life. Well, I never saw it, I don't accept it, and it just infuriates me that Melanie's character so lightly and easily tosses away everything she worked her butt off for over seven years. And don't get me started on the abominable way she treats her fiancé, who is probably the most decent character in the movie. Gaaahhhh! This Melanie character makes women look either idiotic or like big fat liars.
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4/10
cute movie but not very ethical
yingxingz13 November 2002
So the girl just dumped her fiancee like that and ran to another guy on the wedding day? Not forget to mention, after all the things her fiancee has done for her and all the happiness he has brought to her life, she just DUMPED him like a garbage and punched his mother? YEAH RIGHT! I DON"T BELIEVE IT. This is a very cute movie, but overall, I didn't enjoy it very much.
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Home, Sweet Home
holmz_8514 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes the saying `home is where the heart is' has double meaning. For rising New York designer Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon), home is the farthest thing from her mind. And as for her heart, it has recently been stolen. Engaged to one of New York's wealthiest men, not to mention the mayor's (Candice Bergen) son, Melanie returns to home, sweet home Alabama to tie up her past.

Melanie who has done everything in her power to escape her past has to return if she wants to move forward. In order for her to continue with her upcoming wedding to Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey), she must divorce her first husband (Josh Lucas). Her first priority is Jake (Josh Lucas), jail, and home. Her parents (Fred Ward and Mary Kay Place) are typical southern, blue-collar, middle class, average Joe's. Melanie was raised with mentality of making something of herself and get out of this one horse town. However, her parents will travel all over to see the great battlefields and refuse to visit their only daughter in New York. While Jake refuses to sign the divorce papers, Melanie meddles with Jake's life. She makes a fool of herself at the local bar ran by her mother-in-law (Jean Smart). Thinking she is better than everyone else in that town, she adds to the fire when she unveils the secretive sexuality of a friend (Ethan Embry), demeans another, and states: `How can ya'll live like this? It is like you need a pass-port to come down here.' All the time Melanie is demeaning everyone, especially Jake, he is being decent towards her. Her heartstrings are beginning to be pulled in two different ways. Jake finally realizes that he can't compete with Andrew, and he succumbs to the divorce papers. Now there is a wedding to plan! With the mayor of New York as her future mother-in-law, Melanie had not much worrying to do, except worrying about her true feelings and which man she was head-over heels with in love. I'm not going to ruin the ending because it is just too good. Sorry, take 109 minutes out and give "Sweet Home Alabama" a go. You'll have a sweet ole' time watching it; I know I had a sweet time falling in love with this romantic comedy! I give it a solid four-star rating.
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1/10
It was so bad I walked out of the theater!
james anon22 October 2002
I couldn't believe I sat through the entire movie only to see her end up with her loser ex-husband. The ending was so unrealistic I feel I wasted two hours of my life watching that trash. I walked out after that, but I hear there were several more minutes of worthless filler afterwards.

7 years of trying to get a divorce, 8 months of being with "Prince Charming", and she gives it up after being in Hickville for a week?? Give me a break, not to mention giving up her New York lifestyle and future career.
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2/10
Hollywood of Dunces
FAITH4 Sammy1 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Yet another moronic Hollywood film full of condescending stereotypes of Southern Whites, "Sweet Home Alabama" is one of the dullest movies of the new Millennium. Melanie (Reese Witherspoon) deserts a husband in Alabama for the Big Apple, where she becomes a successful fashion designer, but she waits until she's engaged to the Mayor of NYC's son, seven years later, before she gets serious about seeking a divorce. We are then subjected to a long, boring story about Melanie trying to get her husband to sign the divorce papers. Along the way, we meet characters with names like "Lurleen" and learn that banks in Alabama don't have ATMs. It seems that virtually all Southern Whites live in either antebellum mansions or run-down shacks. (I lived in the Deep South for three years and it ain't like this.) We get to hear sagacious bits like: "You can take the girl out of the honky tonk, but you can't take the honky tonk out of the girl." We are also subjected to lame attempts at humor, like when Melanie sits in her father's recliner and falls far back when the handle is pulled - HA! HA!. Hollywood likes to portray Southerners as a bunch of ignorant neanderthals, but what can you say about the intelligence and sophistication of anyone stupid enough to have been involved in the screenplay, direction and production of this bomb.
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Sickeningly sweet
WarpedRecord17 October 2007
This is easily the worst film based on a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. Unfortunately, it's also the best. That should change once my script for " 'That Smell': A Scratch-and-Sniff Musical" hits the big screen.

In the meantime, we must settle for "Sweet Home Alabama," with Reese Witherspoon as Melanie, a successful New York fashion designer engaged to marry Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), an eligible bachelor who is also the son of a rising politician (Candice Bergen). Before Melanie and Andrew can wed, she must serve divorce papers on her husband (Josh Lucas) back in Alabama. I guess she's never heard of registered mail.

Witherspoon does an adequate job following the well-worn path previously taken by romantic comedy queens Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock, but the phony Southern accent wears thin after about 10 minutes. In fact, the film is so full of stereotypes — the trashy locals, the indignant politician, the gay sidekick — you keep waiting for the in-breeding joke. That never arrives, thankfully, but then again, it might have provided a needed laugh as relief from the sentimental schmaltz.

Will Melanie continue on her upwardly mobile path and marry the dim-witted but rich mama's boy, or will she return to her roots and her dim-witted but sincere husband? If you have to ask, then this is the film for you.
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5/10
Servicable.
P Carr15 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
**Warning! Spoilers Ahead!**

First off, I'm a guy, and "chick flicks" such as this aren't my thing at all. So for me to say that "Sweet Home Alabama" was mostly watchable is a compliment.

From seeing the trailers and the opening scene, any experience movie-goer could predict the plot outline, so the effectiveness of this movie really depends more on the appeal of the characters. In that regard, Reese Witherspoon is very good. All-American good looks, a little attitude, and that touch of a Southern accent that all guys love.

But even she can't upgrade the movie to 'good' status. It runs fifteen minutes too long, as scattered short scenes throughout the movie are awkward and unnecessary. Scenes like the faux tour of her mansion, finding her father in the battle, and a past story about a cat.

**Double Warning!! Major Spoilers Ahead!!**

The root problem of "Sweet Home Alabama" though is its simple predictability. Almost nothing is surprising. A few of the requisite South jokes work, primarily if you've ever spent time there, but for the most part they're as cliche as the movie.

If the movie had really wanted to be something, Witherspoon's character would have made the non-Hollywood cliche decision, or at least fused career and her past better. Would someone with such a bright future really choose to walk away from much of that? Isn't there a compromise to be made between love and life? Telling that story would truly have been emotional, perhaps a genuine tear-jerker, and movie that would have connected with an even broader audience.

Bottom Line: The director takes no chances. Potential is wasted, and a potentially ground-breaking movie is merely servicable. 5 out of 10.
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3/10
Not Really Too "Sweet" (3/10)
jhclues5 October 2002
Had this movie been made forty years ago, it would've starred Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward; it's that kind of story-- a romantic and lusty foray into the human condition that takes truth, honesty and love into consideration while examining the relationships of those involved. As for the Newman/Woodward fantasy, as an audience we could only be so lucky. Because `Sweet Home Alabama,' directed by Andy Tennant, coasts with a `Fast Food Generation' sense of romance, and from frame One any `lusty' aspects of the film would be more aptly defined as `dusty,' `musty' or `rusty.' If this is a reflection of the sense and sensibility of romance in the new millennium, then just stop the world now and let me off.

Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon), seven years removed from her roots in Alabama has achieved success in the Big Apple. She is `The' new designer of the fashion world, and the man of her dreams, Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey) has just proposed. Life is good; but there are a couple of things standing between her and the American dream. One is Katherine Hennings (Candice Bergen), Andrew's mother. But the biggest obstacle is back home in Alabama, and before she can realize her dream she's going to have to resolve a few things from her past. Which means a trip back home to the place-- and the life-- she's worked so hard to get away from. But there's no getting around it; to move ahead with her new life she's going to have to open some closet doors and rattle some skeletons. So for Melanie, it's off to her old sweet home, Alabama, to visit the past she'd rather forget.

As a director, Andy Tennant has his roots in television, and for better or worse-- it is, perhaps, a subjective call-- he has time and again attempted to adapt his small screen sensibilities to the big screen, which worked well enough in `Ever After,' in 1998, but achieved dismal results the next year in `Anna and the King.' This offering falls somewhere in-between. To be fair, though, the problems began before Tennant ever came on board, and it falls directly on writers Douglas J. Eboch (story) and C. Jay Cox (screenplay), who cranked out a story/screenplay that is decidedly uninspired and lacks any semblance of originality whatsoever. As a rule, I personally rail against those who deem the outcome of just about any film `predictable,' because it's usually in reference to plot developments that are, more accurately, `inevitable.' This one, however, is going to make everyone in the audience thinking they have The Sight.

To put what Tennant has done here into perspective, one must place him on the scale by which directors of romantic comedy are judged. On the strength of her `Return To Me,' Bonnie Hunt shares the apex of the chart with the undisputed master of the RC, Nora Ephron, both of whom register at the 100th percentile. At the nadir of the chart is Adam Shankman (`The Wedding Planner'), with a `0' percentile. This film puts Tennant at about 20. Granted, he was handed a poor script (how did this get the green light in the first place? It's been DONE already!), but he exhibits a veritable lack of vision with a truly unimaginative rendering of the material. The story is trite and the characters are inherently uninteresting, but he could have at least livened things up a bit. He even blew the outdoor dance scene, which was custom made for some good old down home Alabama rockabilly and line dancing; instead, what you get is a glimpse and a cut-away to a shot of the good ol' boys sitting atop a water tower drinking beer. Make that the 19th percentile.

In `Election' and especially in `Legally Blonde,' Reese Witherspoon is a charismatic, forceful presence on the screen. As Melanie, however, she comes across as too self-absorbed to be likable, and there's a scene in which she's had a bit too much to drink that, as they say, shows her (Melanie's) true colors. She has too much of an edge to evoke any empathy, and overall, her performance isn't that convincing. She gets the `hard' side of Melanie right, but when she goes for `soft' it translates to pretentious and lacks the realism that would make it believable. In retrospect, Melanie is rather unattractive and unappealing, which makes this film a hard sell.

Josh Lucas, meanwhile, though a step up from McConaughey's Steve/Eddie of `The Wedding Planner,' still comes across as a kind of third-rate Paul Newman wannabe. Comparing Newman's Ben Quick to Lucas' Jake Perry, for example, isn't comparing apples and oranges, it's more like sizzle to fizzle. Lucas is a good actor (his Martin Hansen in `A Beautiful Mind'), but he lacks the magnetism to make Jake viable.

As Andrew, Patrick Dempsey gives something of an assembly line performance. In his defense, he was given little with which to work, but he failed to explore it for the nuance that would have at least given some `identity' to his character. Dempsey has the looks and talent, and perhaps a stronger director could've exacted more from him.

And what in the world is going on with Candice Bergen? Is she destined to play a sarcastic and jaded (Katherine in this one) or disturbed (Kathy Morningside, `Miss Congeniality') version of Murphy Brown for the rest of her career? Bergen is a beautiful, gifted actor who has much more to offer than what she's been given in recent years.

The supporting cast includes Fred Ward (Earl), Mary Kay Place (Pearl), Jean Smart (Stella), Ethan Embry (Bobby Ray) and Melanie Lynskey (Lurlynn). With a different cast, director and screenplay, `Sweet Home Alabama' may have had a chance; but this bunch checked any pizzazz and credibility at the door on the way in, and the result is a film that is flat and tedious. This one seemingly had promise, but the filmmakers simply failed to deliver. 3/10.
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1/10
An absolute disaster of a movie!
howard783 February 2003
When I saw this movie I could not believe how bad it was!

The director must have been asleep during the shoots. All of the shots are poorly framed, dull and uninteresting, much like a lousy home movie. The performances are uninvolving.

True, I had just come from watching "Blood Simple" (an all-time classic) but, trust me, this is one awful film. It's not even worth writing more commentary.

Howard78
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2/10
A hot-shot designer and gets engaged to the son of the mayor. Heading back home to divorce her ex-husband properly, she falls back in love with him.
csisman-595-44150024 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is extremely predictable. The protagonist, played by the charming Reese Witherspoon, is nonetheless selfish, thoughtless and bitchy. She is rude and hateful to all her friends, her parents and her boyfriends' mum, not to mention breaking the hearts of two perfectly nice men. I was crossing my fingers that she'd find herself without either of them, and realise she had to be a bit nicer in future.

It seemed to me as though Melanie having a gay friend and being an animal lover was supposed to make up for her otherwise crap personality. Unsucessfully, needless to say.

The dialogue is clichéd and tedious; all the good lines are in the trailer.

There's also a huge amount of stereotyping about new yorkers and the south (*SARCASM ALERT* a male new york designer is gay? :o Wow, never expected that!)

I think the only good thing to say about it, is that the acting is pretty good from everybody. Dempsey is a little wooden, as usual, but it's even a fairly good performance from him. As always, Witherspoon is delightful. Lucas was vaguely charming and handsome, which was all the part demanded. I actually rather liked Candice Bergen's character (we're supposed to hate her because she hates Melanie, but as I hated Melanie too I kinda cheered her on) and Bergen was great as another powerful woman.

Ultimately this movie has nothing to offer in terms of morals, humour or romance. I was not moved a single time. Don't be taken in by the fun and sweet trailer. It's a really bad movie.
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