Project Valentine, Day 19: Runaway Bride


I just realized that this is the third Julia Roberts movie I've reviewed, and all of them so far are from the mid-to-late '90s.  It seems like that's when she was doing the bulk of her romantic and rom-com output.  Somewhere around 2001, she decided she was an IMPORTANT ACTRESS and started making movies with a message (or at least where she could play something different, or do voiceover work).  Somewhere around 2009, she changed her mind again, and that's what we'll talk about tomorrow night.

Tonight, though, we get to see the reunion of Roberts and Gere, the team that brought you Pretty Woman!

Gere, who deserves better, plays Ike Graham, a reporter/columnist.  His writing gets the womenfolk all riled up, which we are shown through the simply hilarious device of having perfect strangers walk up to him on the street and slap his face.  When one of Maggie Carpenter's (Roberts) jilted exes sends Ike a story about her, and how she has stood up multiple men at the altar, he runs the story but is fired for some factual inaccuracies.  In a quest to get his job back, he goes to her hometown to do his own story on her.  He gets to town just in time to see the preparations for her fourth wedding, to a coach played by Christopher Meloni, who also deserves better.  Although Maggie is very suspicious of Ike, he works his way into the townspeople's good graces, and eventually into hers.  From there, of course, it's just a matter of time until they fall in love, right?  She breaks her fourth engagement, then runs away from her wedding to Ike, before showing up at his apartment and marrying him in a private ceremony.

This is my least favorite Julia Roberts movie ever, for so many reasons.

First, in case you don't remember what I wrote in my review of His Girl Friday, here it is:
I'm also picking up on one of the big cliches of romantic comedies: if you want to find the person who you're going to fall in love with, just find the person who you hate the most and stick around long enough.  Voila!  Love connection!
Seriously, it has got to be the most tired and overused plot device there is.

Second, allow me to quote directly from a comment my friend Kyle made on that same review:
One of the things that still strikes me as...I don't know, unsettling for lack of a better word, is how many classic RomComs revolve around one person trying to steal the love interest of another with no regard for that person's feelings or the questionable nature of basically dropping an atomic turd on someone else's relationship.
What he said.  (Also, click on Kyle's name above if you'd like to be taken to his blog.)  I know that movies are not where we turn for realism, but I also don't understand why we are asked again and again not just to identify with, but to love characters who do really lousy crap like this.

Third, maybe I'm being hypersensitive here, but it bothers me that the audience is expected to laugh off repeated scenes of complete strangers randomly assaulting a man on the street simply because they disagree with him.  I don't care if it's mainly little old ladies, I don't care that the character of Ike is supposedly a jerk, I don't care about any of that.  I mean, I get the joke, and I know it's supposed to show how he angers up the blood of otherwise peaceful people, but it's just not that funny.  Say that you were watching a movie about a female journalist, and men walked up to her on the street and slapped her out of the blue.  Still funny?

Fourth, there's a scene where one character mentions Eggs Benedict, and Ike finishes the sentence with "Arnold."  Guys, that joke was old when I was a kid.  I remember it from a Brady Bunch rerun.  Seriously, anybody who laughs at that line has never seen a movie, TV show, or cartoon in their life.

Fifth, maybe you've heard the saying "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."  (Or to quote our illustrious former president, "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.")  Anyway, I would amend that to add, "Fool me a third time, go fuck yourself."  Maggie is supposed to be a sweet, spirited, but confused woman?  No.  Anybody who could do what she does in this movie as many times as she does in this movie doesn't qualify as sweet or confused.  They are heartless and callous.  The scene where Ike shames the townspeople for teasing her about her cold feet is atrocious.  You've known her for like a week, pal.  How about you shut the hell up and let the people who have been burned by her again and again get some closure.

RATING - Runaway Bride gets one happy couple out of five.  Hey, just like in the movie!!!

LESSON - It is reckless and cruel to play fast and loose with the hearts of people whom you supposedly love.


Anya Lianovich said...

Your international readership agrees with all of what you've said, but would like to add:
Just because an actor and actress did a phenom job in one movie does not guarantee they'll be able to recreate the magic. Especially with a terrible vehicle such as this. I mean, er all watched this because we *loved* Julia as a hooker with morals and Richard as the rich man who fell for her, and we were all disappointed when this turned out to be a wretched script.

You overrated it with one of five.

Anonymous said...

Danny, you have an international readership??? OUTSTANDING!

Great review. I won't ever have to see this movie now. So not only did you save me 90 minutes but you also made me laugh. It's the best of both worlds.

BTW - Thanks for the link, I'm one step closer to Google domination!

Danny said...

What are friends for if not to throw some link traffic to each other?

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