Tag Archives: my best friends wedding

My Best Friend’s Wedding//The Wedding Planner

29 Jan

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My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

Directed by P.J. Hogan

Starring Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Everett

Although it is perhaps most well-known for its unconventional ending, My Best Friend’s Wedding should be known, for its perfect blend of romance and comedy, as the definitive rom-com. Julianne Potter (Roberts) is a New York food critic, who, after receiving a mysterious voicemail from her former lover and long-time best friend, Michael (Dermot Mulroney), realizes her affection for him. Unfortunately for her, upon returning Michael’s call, Julianne learns that the new-found man of her dreams has himself met someone and intends to marry her within four days.

Unaware of Julianne’s recently acquired feelings for him, Michael insists that she join the wedding party in Chicago and support him in his hour of need. After some goading from her other best friend, George (Rupert Everett), Julianne decides to go in the hope of breaking up the couple before they can say their “I dos.” The ensuing madness is both enchanting and hilarious, as Julianne finds herself being continually and innocuously bested by Michael’s fiancé, Kimmy (Cameron Diaz), resulting in a series of hilariously irate phone calls to George, who always happens to field them at the worst possible times (i.e. his entire family gets an earful from the answering machine over dinner.)

Diaz and Roberts are perfect comedic matches for one another as the innocently saccharine fiancé and the plotting best friend, and Mulroney is so suave and sexy as “the man of our dreams” (as Roberts puts it) that it’s incredible more of the film’s female population aren’t fighting for his affection. Everett is equally well cast in the role of George, the gay best friend who plays it straight at one point for Julianne’s sake. His scenes provide some of the film’s funniest moments, particularly when George teasingly embarrasses Julianne in front of the rest of the wedding party by launching into his rendition of “I’ll Say a Little Prayer (For You).”

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George’s prank makes for one of the best scenes of the film, as the rest of the wedding party joins in, finishing out the song. For a non-musical, the film certainly has a lot of singing: Kimmy croaks out “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” to her fiance at a karaoke bar, Michael serenades Julianne with “The Way You Look Tonight” as the two drift down the lake on a riverboat, and Kimmy’s two other bridesmaids, a pair of obnoxious twins who match constantly, sing at every opportunity that they get.

Aside from just its comedy, which is considerable, and its romance, which is unorthodox, “My Best Friend’s Wedding” succeeds because its characters are fully-formed, dimensional beings who live in a very real world. Julianne, with all of her charm and charisma, is really just a desperate, wavering soul who fears what might happen if everyone finds happiness besides her. Kimmy, instead of being flat and static (as the “other” girl is wont to be in a romantic comedy), is a likeable and endearing character that the audience can empathize with. Michael, however, is perhaps the most fascinating character of them all.

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Michael is both the perfect best friend- teasing and adoring, while never crossing the line- and the perfect boyfriend. He balances his affection for both of the women in his life and draws his own line regarding the ways in which he can love each of them. His decisions and character both break the traditional mold of a romantic comedy’s “dream guy” by injecting a measure of reality and at the same time uphold it, by demonstrating that there is a way in which a strong, selfless, and moral man can exist without becoming a mere fantasy.

 

 

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The Wedding Planner (2001)

Directed by Adam Shankman

Starring Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Justin Chambers, Judy Greer

Mary Fiore (Jennifer Lopez) has dreamed all her life of falling in love and marrying the perfect man. In fact, she was once so in love with the idea that she started working as a wedding planner for a company where her weddings alone provide the majority of the income. Mary is an excellent wedding planner, but has no promising relationship of her own and next-to-no social life, apart from gossiping with co-worker Penny (Judy Greer) and playing Scrabble with her father and his friends at the YMCA. Her own dismal love life, combined with years of watching couples she helped marry get divorced, has left Mary jaded about the idea of love and doubtful whether it even exists.

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That is until she meets Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey), who literally sweeps her off her feet by saving her from being hit by a runaway dumpster. Steve is perfect, from his curly blond halo to his sweet Southern drawl. He also happens to be a pediatrician, and Mary awakens from her concussion to find herself in the hospital being “treated” by a bevy of children who Steve playfully chases out of the room as soon as he finds out that she has awakened. A very worried Penny shows up at the hospital searching for her friend, and after discovering that Mary is fine and in the hands of a very handsome and capable doctor, Penny invites Doctor Steve to accompany the two of them to watch classic movies in the park that night. Steve agrees, and Penny makes up some last-minute excuse to leave the two of them alone when he arrives.

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Mary and Steve spend a wonderful evening together and share a slow dance in the park which almost leads to a kiss, but is cut short when rain begins to fall.

A giddy Mary is unable to keep her happiness hidden from bride-to-be Fran Donnolly (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras), the daughter of wealthy parents, whose wedding will provide Mary the biggest commission of her life and secure her a partnership at the wedding planning company. Mary confides in Fran, but learns not long after that Fran’s fiancé “Eddie” is none other than the Steve Edison who she danced with. The two are “introduced” by Fran at a dance class, and when Fran receives a phone call, she urges Mary and Steve to dance together until she returns. Mary confronts Steve while the two tango, and learns that he merely meant to have some fun and had not planned on contacting her again.

Determined to be professional, Mary decides she must go through with the wedding and suppress any feelings for Steve. Steve becomes angry with Mary when he learns that she is “engaged” to Massimo (Justin Chambers), and Mary does not bother to tell him that Massimo is merely a childhood friend who her father wishes her to marry and who follows her around like a puppy telling others that they are engaged because he is slightly delusional and entirely in love with her. Mary and Steve are eventually forced to plan the wedding together when Fran is called away to a business meeting, and each struggle to put their growing attraction for the other aside.

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Jennifer Lopez is right at home playing the strong, intelligent professional, Mary, and despite her inability to properly tell a joke (“What, you think Kissinger wrote his own stuff?) or properly communicate strong emotion (like despair), she does well in the cutesy moments. Matthew McConaughey is charming as the conflicted Steve, and expertly plays both his character’s dry, cynical side and his boyish joyfulness. The two play against one another well, unlike the boring Fran, whose idea of the perfect wedding song is Olivia Newton-John’s “I Honestly Love You,” and who can’t seem to find one legitimate reason why she wants to marry Steve in the first place.

As there are no other true funny characters, Massimo is perhaps intended to provide the film’s comic relief, but his “humor” flows less from witty screenwriting and masterful delivery and more from the director’s mistaken assumption that every line a character delivers in broken English must be funny. Overall, “The Wedding Planner” does a good job of fulfilling audience expectations and creating characters that, while likeable, are simply rom-com archetypes. The true romantic, unsatisfied with paltry declarations of love and empty representations of it, hopes for a bit more.

 

 

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The Correlation:

The films “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “The Wedding Planner” have their similarities. Both contain a love triangle with one man and two women (the career-centered brunette who tries not to need men and the bombshell blonde who gets everything she wants thanks to her rich daddy). Both brunette heroines deceptively trick the man they have been slighted by in the same way: by pretending to be engaged to another man who they really have no interest in, in order to make him jealous. Where the films differ, aside from their predictable vs. unpredictable endings, is in the message that they offer for their audiences.

“The Wedding Planner” offers an excellent portrayal of patience. It argues that a young woman who holds to her values and requires a man to pursue her will be rewarded in the end. It’s a positive message, but not one that necessarily echoes reality. <SPOILER> While patience and a refusal to compromise personal values certainly do pay off in the end, it’s rare that the reward comes in the form of a nearly married man leaving his wife for you.

“My Best Friend’s Wedding” takes the opposite approach, by seemingly advocating for women to fight for the man who they want, even if he’s unavailable. It becomes increasingly clear that the film doesn’t actually endorse this viewpoint, however. Julianne resorts to downright manipulative and underhanded tactics in order to break Michael and Kimmy up. <SPOILER> Her tactics don’t work, though. The audience loses sympathy for Julianne in the process, she angers the man she loves, and she falls into self-loathing because of her own actions.

The message that “My Best Friend’s Wedding” provides mores closely adheres to reality. A woman can be deceptive and manipulative in order to get what she wants, but it will have consequences. Often, it will not end happily and the man she was trying to steal will remain faithful to someone else, refuse to really commit to either woman, or only commit to her until he finds someone better. The tactics that a woman uses to steal a man are not what determine this outcome, the character of that man is. Thankfully, “My Best Friend’s Wedding” contains two men of character, who, each in their own way, teach Julianne that hard lesson.

 

 

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CFB’s Pick:

Although “The Wedding Planner” more closely follows the formula of a romantic comedy, including such essential rom-com moments as the very cute meet-cute between guy and girl, the juxtaposition of scenes in which guy and girl each discuss one another with their best friends, the providing of non-essential information about a character that is meant to endear them to both their One True Love and the audience (Matthew McConaughey’s penchant for eating only the brown M n Ms, anyone?), and, well, the happy ending, “My Best Friend’s Wedding” is the film that wins in all the right areas. “My Best Friend’s Wedding” has a superior script which is bold enough to break typical rom-com rules while still satisfying the audience, it contains a cast who are all gifted as both actors and comedians, and it leaves the audience surprised, which is more than can be said for nearly any other film in the romantic comedy genre.

 

 

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Heroine Pick:

Julia Roberts is simply radiant in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Her big hair and megawatt smile, in addition to her comedic prowess, make Julianne more fun to watch than Jennifer Lopez’s Mary. Even in a romantic comedy, we want our leading lady to be able to act, and J. Lo falters in particularly poignant scenes. Mary does outrank Julianne one big area though: she refuses any advances from Steve until she is convinced that he is 100% interested in her. While Julianne courts a practically married man in the hope that he’ll leave his bride-to-be for her, <SPOILER> Mary doesn’t even kiss Steve until after she hears that his engagement is off. One of the biggest criticisms of romantic comedy as a genre is that it provides unrealistic examples for women of what their real-life relationships will be like.

Heroines like Mary demonstrate an important truth: women who are looking for long-term love shouldn’t pursue relationships with men who aren’t wholly committed to them<SPOILER> Julianne learns that lesson the hard way. Also, Mary nobly and unselfishly steps aside when she learns that her man is taken. There’s something to be said for that action, as opposed to the wholly self-centered way in which Julianne approaches a similar situation. Though she does redeem herself eventually, there’s nothing heroine- like about the dastardly deeds that Julianne commits on her quest for stolen love.

 

 

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Dreamiest Dream Guy:

While this pick may seem to be influenced by our belief that Mulroney is far more attractive than McConaughey, we’re looking at character here too. <SPOILER> Michael sticks by his woman, which is more than we can say for Steve. Not to mention Michael’s the kind of guy who isn’t embarrassed about singing “The Way You Look Tonight” to a woman while slow-dancing with her on the back of a riverboat gliding along Lake Michigan. Swoon.

 

 

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Best Best Friend:

We have to go with “My Best Friend’s Wedding” again here and say George. Everett is simply wonderful in this role, and he plays the perfect best friend to Robert’s Julianne by aiding her in her time of need, flying across the country (twice) to arrive exactly when she needs him, and most importantly, by being the one to offer the advice that she doesn’t want to hear but needs to.

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Judy Greer as Penny is a bit too spastic and, well, unhelpful to be much of a best friend. Her main contributions are being an outlet for Mary to talk things through with and freaking out at the most inopportune moments.

 

 

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Heroine’s Career Pick:

Mary takes the prize here for her chosen career of wedding planner. One of the most enjoyable parts of “The Wedding Planner” is seeing just how good she is at her job. Mary calms anxious brides, feeds best men their wedding speeches, and tracks down FOBs (fathers of the bride) with professional precision. Julianne’s job as a food critic is hardly as glamorous.

 

 

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Best Romantic Slow Dance:

This honor has to go to the aforementioned slow dance between Julianne and Michael. Dancing on the back of a riverboat with the breeze drifting through your hair, and the man you love holding you close and singing “your song” in your ear. Does it get any better?

 

 

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Best Chase Scene:

Matthew McConaughey’s romp on the back of Massimo’s vespa is memorable, but nothing beats Julia Roberts chasing Dermot Mulroney- chasing Cameron Diaz- in a stolen bread van. Priceless.

 

 

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Best Comedy Moment:

This was truly a difficult choice, because there are so many Rupert Everett-Julia Roberts-Cameron Diaz combinations to choose from in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” The choice was so hard, in fact, that we’re going to cheat and choose two. The scene in which Julianne (Roberts) and Kimmy (Diaz) get stuck in an elevator together and Kimmy attempts to explain to Julianne why she can’t go on being jealous of her forever, and all the while Julianne is pacing the confined space and hyperventilating is a wonderful piece of comic writing. If we are going to strictly follow the rules and select a best comedy moment, however, it would have to be the moment after Julianne and George (Everett) enter the church and Julianne is about to caution George to stay away from Kimmy, when Kimmy lets out a high-pitched scream and comes bounding towards the two of them, only to be matched in pitch by the jubilant George, who is delighted in Julianne’s discomfort.

 

 

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Best Wedding:

Both films feature weddings prominently enough to include them in their title, but which lavish ceremony takes the cake? The answer for us is neither of the title weddings, but a wedding that takes place early on in one of the films. The most gorgeous and elaborate wedding of either film (that we actually get to see- hardly anything is shown of Steve and Fran’s ceremony at the end of “The Wedding Planner”) is a wedding that Mary coordinates, which serves as a sort of “trial wedding” for the Donnollys to see her work. The intricate red and orange flower arrangements overflowing the tables, the ornate pillows laid across every seat, and the greenery twisting around pillars and hanging from roofs are just a few glimpses of the beautiful reception for what appears to be a traditional Indian wedding. Mary is certainly good at what she does. <SPOILER> We only wish we could have seen the actual Donnolly ceremony that it was all building up to.

 

 

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Most Romantic Moment:

Our pick for the most romantic moment of either film is a very unassuming one, and one whose significance might not be fully felt on a first viewing. It comes when Michael, after trying to help Julianne recover a lost item, becoming frustrated with her unintelligible reasoning for needing to find it that night, and finally taking her up to her hotel room and saying good night, keeps the elevator from leaving and asks his best friend, “Jules? Does this thing mean that much to you?” Upon hearing that it does, he proceeds to fix her problem for her, promising to call his father-in-law and drive all the way out to his house to get the needed key on the night before his wedding. A mark of true love is one person’s ability to sacrifice something valuable to them in order to serve another person, and Michael certainly does that for Julianne.

 

BONUS: In taking screenshots of scenes that were referenced, we couldn’t help catch some of the extraordinary ways that Julia Roberts is able to manipulate her face.

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Comment below to share which of the two films is your personal favorite and why:

 

 

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