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Movie Reviews

My Best Friend's Wedding  

Jealousy is an evil scourge in an otherwise potentially healthy personality. One can turn oneself from a happy, secure person into guest number 437678 for the Jerry Springer show, the home for other equally possessive creatures. When it comes to relationships, jealousy is a tiger ready to pounce. Even the slightest mention of the opposite sex is poison to the other partner, who will soon suspect you are losing interest, or worse. It`s an all or nothing proposition, rooted in a paranoid mind. And even if you are not going out with that other person, possessiveness can play a key part if that opposite-gender friend gets attached to someone else.

That`s the story in PJ Hogan`s My Best Friend`s Wedding, starring Julia Roberts as a woman whose best male friend (Dermot Mulroney) is about to get married to Cameron Diaz. Problem is, Roberts and the man had a short-lived steamy affair, but settled for being long term friends, with the promise that if neither one got married before 28, they`d marry each other. Seems fair. But Roberts is not quite ready to let him go. She`s definitely not ready.

Her plan is to essentially damage Diaz`s psychological health in order to break up the engagement, and to return to the close-friends-with-the-unspoken-chance-of-something-more which had been around for nearly a decade. Roberts tries embarrassing her at a karioke bar. She tries to get Mulroney jealous by pretending to have her own fiancee. Nothing seems to work. Until she inadvertently plays out a diabolical plan which certainly will destroy this impending happiness.

Her meanness obviously stems from her unwillingness to display emotion or sentiment. She never did tell Mulroney`s character during their short fling that she loved him. And even during this attack on Diaz`s well-being, she never does mention to anyone that she is doing this out of love (but..could you do that out of love!!!!) She behaves as if she wants to win him, as if this is some blood sport which only the most vicious person can win. And since Diaz is a naive, cute little girl, it only stands to reason Roberts will win. And there seems to be no doubt that she will. It will have to take some serious soul-searching, and a letting go of her possessiveness, in order for things to resolve peacefully.

Julia Roberts is all that; she is able to underplay her attitudes, appearing less of a monster than she could have been. She is the star, after all, so that problem may have been forced upon her. But she is still able to strike the balance between the demands of stardom and the desire to create a less than worthy character. It is a true performance, enabling us to come to terms with her as a person yet realize she is causing a lot of unworthy damage. Rupert Everett is great as Robert`s gay friend, who is inadvertently suckered in to playing Roberts' fiance, and who makes the best of it at a get-together with Diaz and Mulroney`s families. Everett spins wild tales of their "relationship", and at one point likens it to a Doris Day-Rock Hudson extravaganza. And Diaz is able to play her character as a sweet, trustworthy soul who is only trying to do her best and please everyone who is trying to "help" her in making this challenging leap.

The movie also contains enough Burt Bacarach songs to sink a ship, including a somewhat weak version of "Waitin`and Hopin`" during the opening credits, which also perhaps goes a bit too long, but certainly tells us what we are about to expect. There are also a couple of wacky forays into spontaneous singing, and when you realize the director, PJ Hogan (Muriel`s Wedding - the man must have a thing for this topic!!) is Australian, and that many recent releases from that country are pretty strange, you could almost say this film is a US-Aussie co-production, with the attitude it has.

This is certainly a nifty movie about the troubles that result when people can only think possessively and sexually about members of the opposite sex. Granted, this is probably one of those primitive things which go back to Neanderthal times, but it would be a good thing if men and women could see themselves as potential friends rather than as either potential mates or threats to their sexual/relationship status. Why, just last night I was given the brush-off by someone I`ve worked with for a couple of years who couldn`t deal with the fact that I asked her if we could go out for a drink after work. She seemed to imply that I had some ulterior motive, or that it was typical of Islanders, or other redneck havens, for men and women to only want to get in the sack with every other person they meet. However, on the basis of this movie, it isn`t just a redneck thing. Although I do admire Diaz`s character, who never shows the slightest bit of jealousy that her future husband has been best friends with a lovely woman for nearly a decade. Now that`s class. If only Robert`s character could have justified that high opinion.

David Macdonald

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