Original release: June 20th, 1997
Running time: 105 minutes
Director: P. J. Hogan
Writer: Ronald Bass
Composers: James Newton Howard
Cast: Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Everett
Oh dear… we’ve all been there haven’t we? That hopeless moment in our lives when we realise we’re in love with someone we can never have. I know I sure have, for a few months I remember hitting rock bottom and then coming up with an insane plan, only to then really hit rock bottom after I boarded a flight to move to a country where I didn’t even speak the same language – all with the hope of winning back the object of my affections.
I’d like to think I wasn’t the only one who ever pulled out an array of dirty tricks and jealous moves in an effort to outdo the competition. That’s probably why it came as such a comfort to see My Best Friend’s Wedding during that crazy time.
In the film we meet Julianne (Julia Roberts), a New York restaurant critic and her gay friend George (Rupert Everett) as they’re having dinner one night. She then gets a voice mail from her best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) who tells her he’s got something really big he wants to ask her. Julianne reminisces over the time they’ve spent together since college when they had a short but well remembered fling. She tells George they made a pact that if neither of them were married by the time they turned 28, they would marry each other – and now Julianne is three weeks shy of her 28th birthday.
Instead of asking her to marry him, Michael tells her he’s not only met someone, but he’s getting married to her. The lucky girl is Kimberly (Cameron Diaz), a 20-year-old University of Chicago student from a wealthy family. Realising that after all these years she’s really in love with him, Julianne heads to Chicago and plans to sabotaging the wedding and have Michael to herself. It’s quite a step for the commitment-phobe who up until now wasn’t even comfortable with public displays of affection, but she can either watch him marry someone she knows if wrong for him or marry her, who’s a perfect match for him.
When Julianne and Kimberly finally meet, she’s kind of horrified to find out she’s so sickly sweet, naïve and trusting, especially when she asks her to be her maid of honour. Julianne concludes “she’s toast” and goes about her plans to wreck their chances of happiness in a series of wickedly funny ways, including a humiliating round of karaoke where everyone finds out just what a terrible voice Kimberly has.
Unfortunately, despite her scheming and plotting, Michael and Kimberly always manage to look beyond each other’s faults. Eventually Julianne’s reluctance to accept their union leads her to take drastic action, first by announcing she’s engaged to George and then by sending an email which lands Michael in trouble with his employers and future in-laws.
As the day of the wedding approaches, Julianne finally takes the plunge and on George’s advice, she comes clean to Michael, about her feelings and the terrible things she done – all with the hope that he’ll pick her.
Julia Roberts plays the role perfectly and her comedic timing is spot on, particularly in the scenes where she’s verging on hysterical and screaming down the phone at George for a solution to win Michael back. Her big laugh and doe eyes are irresistible and as we root for her we almost forget about her actions being morally wrong and utterly selfish in this instance.
It’s not often we see a film like this; a romantic comedy where the protagonist actually fails, but that’s one of the things I love about My Best Friend’s Wedding. It doesn’t go for the fairy tale ending – Julianne doesn’t win Michael back but comes to accept he might not be her husband one day but will always be her best friend.
As for George, Rupert Everett is hilarious, stereotypically so, but he brings a certain kind of comedy to the film that works well with Roberts. In pairing them up together, My Best Friend’s Wedding was easily one of my favourite films from the 90s of this genre, especially with its charming sing-along scene where the cast break into a rendition of Diana King’s I Say a Little Prayer.
While we might not always win back those we once loved, or continue to love, and even though we might not even win any points for trying, this was one of those handful of movies that made me feel I wasn’t alone in my temporary insanity.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .