Home, all-too familiar home

Sometimes movies come along that are so predictable you donít have to actually see them to know whatís going to happen.In the case of Sweet Home Alabama, it may just be worth the trip, anyway.
The new film starring sugary-sweet Reese Witherspoon is, without a doubt, the quintessential romantic comedy ñ complete with the love triangle, supporting characters based on stereotypes and a predictable plot.
The fact that this one ends with everyone in the theater smiling is not representative of how different the film plays out. Rather, we want the two main characters to get together so much that the matter in which they do so doesnít need logic getting in the way.
For what itís worth, Sweet Home Alabama could have been unenjoyable, as well as predictable ñ fortunately, it only committed the latter movie faux pas.
Melanie Carmichael (Witherspoon) is a budding fashion designer debuting her new line in the craziness surrounding New York Cityís fashion week.
Andrew (Patrick Dempsey) is the son of the mayor (Candice Bergan) and is about to propose to Melanie.
Jake (Josh Lucas) is Melanieís supposedly no-good husband from Alabama who never signed their divorce papers from seven years earlier.
And thus, the players in the obligatory love triangle, which makes its way into every cookie cutter romantic comedy.
The problem with the filmís plot is the lack of motivation once Melanie achieves what she sets out to do. She flies down to Alabama the day after getting engaged so she can finalize her divorce. She goes straight to Jakeís house, and he refuses to sign the papers. Then she gets thrown in jail (somehow, this always seems to happen) and has to ask her parents to bail her out. She gets drunk and offends all of her old friends by acting better than them. And then, Jake signs the divorce papers. (We are now 30 minutes into the film.)
Why does she stay? We still do not know.
Thatís the problem with this otherwise enjoyable ìchick flick,î which benefits from the fine casting of, and chemistry between, Witherspoon and Lucas. Just like every other successful romantic comedy (such as last yearís Serendipity), we like the two main characters, and we ache until the last frame when they finally get together.
Her whole reasoning for revisiting her dreadful past comes to fruition so early that the audience is left guessing what sheís still doing there.
Sure, the Southern humor played out between Dad (Fred Ward) and Mom (Mary Kay Place) is amusing enough to pass the time. And the newly liberal Southís acceptance of Melanieís outed childhood-friend Bobby Ray (Ethan Embry) would have been nice, if it werenít such a blatant excuse to simply have a ìminorityî character in the film.
But the stereotypical reliving of the Confederateís role during the Civil War takes too long. Especially considering the sequenceís whole purpose is nothing more than another excuse to remind the audience that Alabama is a state where only simpletons roam.
However, in the end, itís the perfect execution of an increasingly stale formula (that can also be seen in Bridget Jonesís Diary, Someone Like You and almost every Sandra Bullock film to date), which makes you forget about the moments when it appears the actors are simply stalling for the inevitable reunion of the married couple.
And just as Melanie succumbs to Jake, with Sweet Home Alabama, you canít help falling for such a cute film.

Contact Will Albritton at oraclewill@yahoo.com