in ,

Sweet Home Alabama


‘…fluffy, shallow but bright and easy-going, idiotic and yet hard to hate…’

The title of America’s Sweetheart has been vacant for a while now; the lack of popular rom-coms means that we’ve stopped looking for a sassy gal to win our hearts in airbrushed romantic comedies. That’s not to say that we don’t need them, or that the post shouldn’t be filled; less than two decades ago, Reese Witherspoon was wowing the world with such innocent fare as Andy Tennant’s Sweet Home Alabama.

With a title taken from a popular seventies song, and with politics not much more recent, Sweet Home Alabama is the story of a gal with a guy problem; Melanie (Witherspoon) is a New York fashion designer who gets a romantic wedding proposition from Andrew (Patrick Dempsey). But she’s got some unfinished business back home, and travels back to Alabama to attempt to rush through a quickie divorce with forgotten husband Jake (Josh Lucas, trying but failing to graduate from the Matthew McConaughey charm school). All Melanie wants to do is get her papers signed, but will fate, or the Southern wind, blow Jake back into her orbit?

There’s not many laughs in Sweet Home Alabama, and when they come, they’re excruciating; Melanie winces as her prospective mother in law Mayor Kate (Candice Bergen) is hoisted in the air legs upwards by a malfunctioning chair invented by her father Earl (Fred Ward); no-one said we were going for sophistication here. Neither is the romance much to shout about; Andrew and Jake may be separated by a political divide, and writer C Jay Cox has designed his script to position Republicans and Democrats as the Montagues and Capulets of their day. Neither man seems like a great catch, so watching Melanie figure it out is like watching a friend make bad choices; involving but ultimately frustrating.

Yet as our memories of cinema slip further away, I miss films like Sweet Home Alabama, fluffy, shallow but bright and easy-going, idiotic and yet hard to hate. Films based around romantic decisions, familial embarrassments, all seem like relics from a distant past. Witherspoon has built an admirable career since, and she carries Sweet Home Alabama as if she’s leading marching band, strident, proud, and a worthwhile centre for our attention. Living on the gruel of streaming, there’s nothing like this around today in the way of product; a film based around the idea that our liking for a new, fresh star is enough reason to sit through two hours of slushy silliness.



Leave a Reply
  1. Witherspoon’s pension fund picture like the Legally Blonde duo. Remember this as being entertaining enough fluff. I initially aw Witherspoon as picking up Meg Ryan’s rejects but gradually realised she had great depth of acting skills than the other.

    • I wish I’d thought of that line, curses! I guess that’s part of the ‘charm’ of this movie…

  2. Do you remember Reese Witherspoon? Pepperidge Farms Remembers!™

    Talking about the gruel of streaming, I was listening to the radio yesterday at lunch time and the business report came in. One the tidbits was about a chain of movie theatres here in New England (and I’m sure nationwide) and how they weren’t sure if they’d be opening their doors again even when the herd immunity threshold has been reached. Just goes to show how fast our world can change. 18 months and something that everyone thought was a bedrock (movies and going to watch them) is now dust in the wind.

    While I’ve seen a bunch of covers for movies with Witherspoon, I’m not sure that I’ve actually seen anything with her in it. Like Alex, she didn’t star in the kinds of movies I gravitate towards in general.

      • I like their line of milano cookies myself 😀
        Of course, I do remember when they were pretty much just a quality bread company instead of a “throw everything into the grocery store and see what sticks” company like they are today.

    • If herd immunity is what they’re waiting for, they’ll be lucky to ever open their doors again, feels like we’re kicking off a lifetime race between vaccines vs endless mutations….don’t see an immediate future in any business that depends on cramming people together. And yet that communal experience is the glue that holds entertainment businesses together…

  3. I haven’t seen Witherspoon in much so I guess she was never my sweetheart. Though I think mainly she stars in the kinds of movies I don’t watch much. Thought she was good in Election.

    • She does make films without men with insect heads, yes, that’s accurate. Although Seth Brundle would be a better catch than the men in this film…

        • Exactly. So you’re doing the three fly films, and the reboot and the sequel? Is this inspired by my seminal work on The Vulture this week?

            • Except you are clearly stealing the ideas of a far superior blog! You’ll be hearing from my legal team the moment they graduate…

                • I understand that for legals reasons, you’re pretending not to read my blog, but I can offer authorities compelling evidence in the form of your daily posts on MY blog…get your trousers on, luv, you’re nicked!

                  • So, I looked at this Vulture review, which I apparently did NOT comment on (Look it up, bunny), and you apparently make a passing reference to that movie being “in the vein of The Fly.” You’re grasping for relevance.

                    • The modus operandi of a cad; you leave comments on every other piece, and yet not on the one that you slavishly copy the following week. Case closed. ‘Reaches for black cap for sentencing…’

                    • Just get your story straight before the rozzers pay you a visit. Copyright theft is a crime.

                    • There’s not a shred for you to hang that on, and it’s viral success this week indicates that it’s the quality of the writing, not the subject.

Leave a Reply