"I've got 4 days to break up a wedding, steal a bridegroom, and I
have no idea how to do it," laments the gorgeous protagonist, Julianne
Nine years ago she and her "best friend" Michael O'Neal made a
pact that, if they were not married by the age of 28, they would marry
each other. It is three weeks until bachelor Michael's 28th birthday
when he calls Julianne to invite her to his wedding. In just four
days, he and Kimmy Wallace will be hitched. This starts Julianne
planning diabolical schemes to come between Michael and Kimmy.
I have not met anyone who has seen Australian director P. J.
Hogan's MURIEL'S WEDDING who did not fall in love with the quirky story
of the dateless girl from Porpoise Spit. For his second theatrical
film, Hogan has been bankrolled by Hollywood and given a big name,
Julia Roberts, for the leading part of Julianne. The resulting film,
MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING, becomes more of a star vehicle for Roberts
than the second film of a talented director. Although there are many
laughs, this frustrating movie has more missed opportunities than
Ronald Bass's script has promise, but not with Julia Roberts as
the lead. Her ever sweet persona covers over what should be a
character with some hard edges. Her actions are never credible, and
the script seems to be trying to gloss over any evil intentions on her
part. Even the chemistry between herself and her putative boyfriend
has little oomph.
Julianne's would-be husband Michael is played by Dermot Mulroney
(KANSAS CITY). Mulroney's failing is that he is an extremely bland
actor. In MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING, he plays a bland character, and
the result is, well, bland, which does not make for particularly
The actress with the most promise is Cameron Diaz as the
"annoyingly perfect" Kimmy, the innocent, blond and blue-eyed,
twenty-year-old daughter of a billionaire. Diaz is sadly miscast. As
her brilliant and biting work in THE LAST SUPPER shows, she would have
made a perfect Julianne. Granted, this would have decreased box office
revenue, but it would have also decreased cost so the profit might be
the same. On the other hand, Roberts could not have played Kimmy, but
I suspect Hollywood could have found a truly brainless blonde for the
In the story, Kimmy embraces Julianne immediately. As soon as
Kimmy sees her, she calls her "sister" and tells her, "I have 4 days to
make you my new best friend."
To counteract Michael's white bread personality, his two would-be
wives talk about his alleged faults. Besides smoking cigars in bed,
"he sips soup through his teeth, but he sure can kiss," claims Kimmy.
Typical of the horrific terrors that Julianne inflicts on Kimmy is
tricking her to sing at Michael's favorite karoake bar. Kimmy sings so
badly that she is an instant hit with the karoake audience. Most of
Julianne's other tricks similarly go awry.
The best performance is turned in by Rupert Everett (CEMETERY MAN)
as Julianne's editor and friend George Downes. When I tell you that
George is gay but will fake being Julianne's fiancee, you will probably
shrug your shoulders and say that you've seen that too many time
lately. Everett takes this potentially cliched part and turns it into
one both strong and funny. The relationship between Julianne and
George as good friends is the best and only genuine one in the picture.
("The misery, the exquisite Rita Hayworth tragedy of it all," is how
George describes poor Julianne's predicament.)
The best parts of the show are the musical numbers. The opening
credits have one and another occurs during a big pre-wedding banquet.
Both are simply hilarious and reminiscent of MURIEL'S WEDDING.
MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING works best when Roberts is not on center
stage. Small characters like the "sluts," Samantha (Rachel Griffiths)
and Amanda (Carrie Preston), provide the biggest laughs. If Diaz had
just been given the lead, this could have been an excellent second
release for the director. But she wasn't.
MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING runs 1:45. It is rated PG-13 for one use
of the F-word. The "nudity" is basically confined to Julia Roberts
showing off her belly button in almost every outfit. The film would be
fine for kids around ten and up. In a very close call, I am giving the
film thumbs up and ** 1/2 for everyone but Roberts and Mulroney, whom I
wish were never cast for their parts.
Copyright © 1997 Steve Rhodes