I’m about to over-analyze an 18-year-old romantic comedy, so if you’re someone who is doing actual important things today, you may not want to waste your time on this.
But if you’re like me, and you spent 20 minutes of your life yesterday reading the complete oral history of the 2000 teen classic Bring It On, you may be interested, so stick around.
So, you guys. Last night, I came home, put on my sweats, scooped my takeout into a real bowl (why do I do this? Am I trying to trick myself into thinking I’m a good cook and I actually made it?), sat on the couch, and turned on Netflix. I have long been upset that my favorite 90s rom-com, My Best Friend’s Wedding, isn’t on Netflix. And, because I’m too cheap to buy it on Amazon for $8, I only watch it when it’s on TBS. This, though, has helped me keep this movie on a pedestal (movie reference!), because if I could watch it whenever I wanted, it probably would’ve lost some of its luster earlier.
So last night, when I turned on Netflix, I flipped down to “romantic comedies” and audibly gasped (true) when I saw the wondrous sight: it was now streaming and I could watch it anytime! Well, anytime I’m home alone, would be the more accurate way to phrase that.
Now I will say, I first saw this movie when it came out when I was 10 years old, and like anything enjoyed during childhood, I haven’t been able to view it objectively since then. At the time, seeing people in their late 20s have important careers and dress well and have great hair and fall in love seemed so glamorous.
However, I am now 28 – a peer to Dermot Mulroney’s Mike and just a bit older than Julia Roberts’ almost-28-year-old Julianne. I am still a lover of stupid rom-coms, even though they are almost always ridiculous and full of implausible scenarios; in the same way you have to suspend disbelief when watching a superhero movie, you have to suspend disbelief when watching anything Kate Hudson is in.
But, I’m older and more jaded and it’s harder for me to watch this movie the same way now. About ten minutes into the movie, I found myself thinking “that’s ridiculous” to something a character said, and then again a few minutes later, and finally, about halfway through the movie, I had the shocking (to me, maybe not to anyone else) realization that:
Umm… this isn’t a very good movie.
WHAT! My favorite rom-com ever! How was it possible that I was no longer IN LOVE with it?
Don’t get me wrong – I still enjoyed watching it and will continue to do so in the future. And it has many hilarious and endearing moments. But on the whole: guys, there are too many eye-roll moments. I’m not going to be an insane person and ask a romantic comedy to have ZERO plot holes, but I would like it to try to minimize them as much as possible.
So here’s my list of reasons I can no longer blindly love this movie:
- We are supposed to believe Julia Roberts’ character Julianne is a high-powered, highly-respected food critic. Listen, I know there are some people who become very successful in their careers in their 20s, but I am not buying that Julianne is one of them.
- I know this is a minor detail, but in the first scene when Julianne is presented with a dish at a restaurant she’s writing about, she eats just one tiny part of it (literally, you see her just eat one tiny piece that does not incorporate all the parts of the dish) and then announces her opinion: “I’m writing it up as inventive… and confident.” You barely tried it! Very frustrating detail for me.
- Listen, I don’t care how crazy your life is or how busy you are with your book tour: if you don’t know your best friend is GETTING MARRIED mere days before the wedding (a huge, expensive, lavish wedding which probably took a lot of time to plan, by the way – not a spur-of-the-moment wedding in Vegas), you are probably not best friends.
- A big part of the plot is this one wild night Julianne and Michael spent (…in Tucson, Arizona…) where they cut their fingers, pressed them together (unsafe, guys) and promised to marry one another if they were both single at 28. 28! That is not old. We’re supposed to believe this woman who doesn’t like commitment and is incredibly focused on her career is going to freak out if she’s not married by 28? I do not believe that. I also do not believe anyone is having a wild, memorable night in Tucson.
- We never get the full how-we-met story on Michael, the traveling sportswriter, and Kimmy, the 20-year-old rising senior (or drop-out? we never find out) at Brown. But, as a 28-year-old, I can say, there are very few times in life where I even encounter a 20-year-old. So how did they meet? And why don’t we think it’s creepy that they started dating? I’m just not sure why she needed to be 20. Why couldn’t they have made her like, 23 or 24? I understand why a woman of any age would fall for 1997 Dermot Mulroney, but I just find it slightly creepy that we’re rooting for this romance.
- Again, small detail, but Julianne, Michael, and Miss Kimberly Wallace go out for drinks at a karaoke bar one night, and then, in order to get Julianne and Michael alone at the end of the night, the creative geniuses behind this movie make up a reason that Kimmy can’t be with them: she has a dinner with her grandmother. At night, after they had gone to a bar. At what, 11 p.m.? Grandma is not awake at this time – and certainly not hosting a dinner.
- Julianne is like… a really bad person. I mean, we all make mistakes. But how many of us have ever sabotaged a wedding? She realizes she’s in love with Michael days before he marries someone else, which like, ok, fine. Horrible timing, but she clearly wasn’t in touch with her feelings for the entirety of her friendship with him. So, ok, whatever – if you absolutely MUST get it off your chest, then tell him that you love him and then maybe like…. don’t go to the wedding. But instead, she gets him fired, lies to basically everyone, drags her friend into the whole saga but then gets mad at him for not helping her in the exact way she wants, and then she “KISSES (Michael)… at (Kimmy’s) parents’ house… on (his) wedding day!” By the end of the movie, I didn’t really care for her much??
- Now, this one really pains me to admit. Prior to last night, I thought Cameron Diaz was a horrible actress, but that her one shining light of good acting was in this movie. But watching it last night made me realize: nope, she has never been good. Granted she is better in this movie than most subsequent movies, but she’s still pretty bad. She’s right there in the category of skinny blondes (Kaley Cuoco, anyone?) whose careers should’ve petered out after they were teen models for Seventeen magazine, but who are now – inexplicably – very successful and famous multi-millionaire actresses. She’s slightly better in this movie, because it probably wasn’t until after this movie that she realized she didn’t actually have to try that hard to make millions, but still, she’s not great.
In spite of all these things, though, I will forever have a place in my pop-culture heart for this movie, because it does have some great moments:
- The opening credits: a bride and her bridesmaids singing “Wishin’ and Hopin.”
- Julianne explaining to Kimmy why her class difference with Michael is causing a rift in their relationship:
- Any scene George was in. He had the best lines of the movie, including:
- “Love to! Love the shoes, love the bag, love everything. Love to.”
- “Who’s chasing you? Nobody, get it? There’s you answer.”
- “There she was. A vision… in pink.”
- And my all-time favorite: “Suddenly, a familiar song. And, you’re off your chair in one, exquisite movement… wondering, searching, sniffing the wind like a dapple deer. Has God heard your little prayer? Will Cinderella dance again? And then, suddenly, the crowds part and there he is: sleek, stylish… radiant with charisma. Bizarrely, he’s on the telephone. But then, so are you. And then he comes towards you… the moves of a jungle cat. Although you quite correctly sense that he is… gay… like most devastatingly handsome single men of his age are, you think… what the hell. Life goes on. Maybe there won’t be marriage… maybe there won’t be sex… but, by God, there’ll be dancing.”
- Kimmy’s bridal look – one of my favorites from any movie, ever.
- And of course: the rehearsal dinner scene, when everyone sings “I Say a Little Prayer for You.”
Now, after writing this, I feel disdain for this dumb movie. But I also feel a deep love for this thing that I’ve enjoyed for many years. I love it, and I think it’s dumb. And that, I think, sums up the feelings I have about so many popular things from the 90s. I mourn for the way I used to be able to watch this movie, but like George said: life goes on.