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My Best Friend's Wedding
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My Best Friend's Wedding is a 1997 romantic comedy in which Julia Roberts plays a woman determined to prevent her best friend from getting married to someone that isn't her. There's some profanity, including "f--k." Characters drink in bars, at dinner, and at receptions, and are shown drunk, hungover, and making questionable decisions, including one character who gets her tongue stuck on the penis of an ice sculpture of David. The main character is a heavy smoker. The film also revives the antiquated notion that women must tear each other down to win the love of a man. It also proffers a version of love that's unrequited, dishonest, and manipulative.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING, Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts) is a successful but lovelorn food critic who's about to turn 28. Secretly, she's holding on to the dream that she and former flame and best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) will follow through on their grade-school promise to marry each other if they're both still single at 28. But Julianne's dream is dashed when, just weeks from her 28th birthday, Michael calls her to announce his engagement to Kimmie (Cameron Diaz), a 20-year-old socialite who's willing to drop out of school and put her life on hold for the love of a good man. So of course, Julianne, suddenly desperate, sets out to stop it. But can she profess her love in time to stop the wedding? And is it too late for a romantic relationship between the two?
Is it any good?
This fine cast deserves a plot that's less distasteful. Anyone who watches reality dating game shows like The Bachelor, Flavor of Love, or Rock of Love -- or bizarre shows like Scott Baio Is 45… and Single -- knows that in a world where the goal is to "win" instead of to connect as equals, people race to the lowest common denominator: Men become more superficial and controlling, and women become more desperate and insane. In other words, it's not an example of the way real people fall in love. Unfortunately, My Best Friend's Wedding takes the same premise to the big screen (or to your DVD player) and creates characters who are just as immature. Julianne's line, "I've got exactly four days to break up a wedding and steal the bride's fella, and I haven't a clue of how to do it" is hilarious, especially the way Roberts delivers it, sucking manically on a cigarette. But the reality of watching Oscar winner Roberts debase herself is painful. And for what? The affections of a dolt who equates subservience with love? One hopes there's more to Julianne's adoration of Michael than his caveman ideas of love and his chiseled features. Unfortunately, the viewer never sees it.
The movie, with its retro-ironic Burt Bacharach remakes and zany score, is meant to be a spoof of the screwball comedies of the 1950s. "We are some glittering Doris Day-Rock Hudson extravaganza," effuses the clearly gay George (the divine Rupert Everett) of his sham engagement to Julianne -- and he's right. The film has all the same, sexist plot points as a 1950s film that's based on the idea that a woman can either have a career or be a devoted wife. And it has the same manic energy of a bad I Love Lucy episode. Men and women deserve depictions of their relationships that are less insulting to everyone involved, Burt Bacharach deserves a better vehicle for his campy and great music, and viewers -- especially young, romantically naïve viewers -- deserve a film that gives a better idea of what love is today.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the definition of love that this movie exerts. What's the difference between a crush and love? Do you think it's real love if it's unrequited? Is the pain of love a good reason to lie and manipulate? What qualities should love bring out in people? It's also a good opportunity for families to talk about how teens can handle romantic feelings about a platonic friend.
How does My Best Friend's Wedding both use and play with the conventions of romantic comedies?
Why do you think romantic comedies have such a timeless appeal? What are some other examples of romcoms throughout the decades, and who are some well-known actors who performed in them?
- In theaters: July 24, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: August 28, 2001
- Cast: Cameron Diaz, Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts, Rupert Everett
- Director: P.J. Hogan
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: one use of strong language and brief sex-related humor
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
For kids who love romcoms
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