But the subtle way the characters move through the story line, changing roles from good guy to bad guy makes My Best Friend’s Wedding my favorite romantic comedy. It spins a delightful twist on the traditional romantic comedy theme with a very flawed heroine and an unexpected ending. The movie also helps me validate the crazy actions of my own characters from time to time.
Julia Roberts plays Julianne Potter, a leading Chicago food critic who is in love with an ex-lover from her college years, Michael O’Neal (Dermot Mulroney). I instantly fell in love with Michael just by hearing his voice on the phone. He is a funny and charming leading man who is humble and down to earth with just enough vulnerability to make him sweet.
The opening scene with a voice message from Michael prompts the premise as she explains their relationship to her editor, George Downs (Rupert Everett). “Sophomore year at Brown, we had this one hot month. But, of course, you know me, I got restless. So, I get up the nerve to break his heart and he gives me this look, and then he says, "the thing that makes me wanna cry is, I'm losing the best friend I ever had." And at that moment, I knew, I felt the same way. So, I cried, for maybe the third time in my life, kissed him and we've been best friends ever since. We've seen each other through everything, losing jobs, losing parents, losing lovers. We've traveled all over. The best times of my life, drinking and talking, even if it's just over the phone.”
Ah-ha! Julianne’s fear of commitment let Michael slip through her fingers, but wait…The plot is about to turn into gravy!
At the end of their passionate love affair ─before they became life-long buddies, Michael made her swear that if they weren’t married by the time they were twenty-eight, they would marry each other. And, yes, you guessed it. Julianne’s twenty-eight birthday is only three weeks away!
With that deadline approaching, Michael surprises Julianne, not with a proposal, but with his fiancé, Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz). The upbeat, energetic and overly vivacious Kimmy is “annoyingly perfect” and “vulnerable and endearing”, but that doesn’t stop Julianne from frantically planning the breakup. “I've got exactly four days to break up a wedding, steal the bride's fella and I haven't one clue how to do it!”
Although Julianne seems to be at the rim of insanity with jealousy throughout most of the movie, inconspicuous moments of her regret allowed me to sympathize with her. An important part of creating a character the audience can relate to. As a woman, I can relate to the fear accompanying commitment and the jealousy of knowing the one you’re in love with loves another.
She relies George for advice and quickly pulls him into her scheming plan to win back Michael by introducing him as her fiancé. George, who is by the way, gay, plays along while gently nudging her to tell Michael how she feels. (I love George.)
Julianne evolves from a woman in love to a narcissistic ex-lover, and by her own admission to Michael, constructs a variety of “underhanded, despicable and not even terribly imaginative” ways to undermine the wedding. The Jell-O scene between Julianne and Kimmy is a hilarious example of her impromptu plotting.
“Okay, you're Michael, you're in a fancy French restaurant, you order... crème brulee for dessert, it's beautiful, it's sweet, it's irritatingly perfect. Suddenly, Michael realizes he doesn't want crème brulee, he wants something else.
Kimmy scoots to the edge of her seat, eager to know. “What does he want?
“Jell-O,” Julianne answers, quickly. (Only a desperate woman would compare herself to Jell-O.)
“Jell-O?! Why does he want Jell-O?”
“Because he's comfortable with Jell-O, Jell-O makes him... comfortable. I realize, compared to crème brulee it's... Jell-O, but maybe that's what he needs.”
Poor Kimmy swallows her pride. “I could be Jell-O.”
“No! Crème brulee can never be Jell-O, YOU could never be Jell-O.”
With tears in her eyes and panic in her voice, Kimmy answers, “I HAVE to be Jell-O!”
Julianne is brutally honest. “You're never gonna be Jell-O!”
I doubted whether or not Kimmy loved Michael, but after this scene I knew they had to be together. I mean, seriously! Only a woman in love would be willing to go from crème brulee to Jell-O!
There is a certain charm to Kimmy, and a hint of shrewdness despite her childish laughter and excitement. Her willingness to accept Michael and all his imperfections, had me rooting for her midway of the film.
With only a few hours to go before the wedding, Julianne decides to lay it all on the line… “Michael, I love you. I've loved you for nine years. I've just been too arrogant and scared to realize it, and, well, now, I'm just scared...”
Yes! Finally! But is it too late?
Afraid so…. Michael’s flattered, but isn’t in love with her. Its then she realizes she has to let him go. The rivals avoid having a “cat fight”, Julianne confesses, “I lost. He doesn’t love me. He loves you.”, and all is forgiven between her and Kimmy.
The couple say their vows and George unexpectedly swoops in to dance with the lonely Julianne. The audience is given a happy ending and the writer in me wants to start writing Julianne’s story!
Thank you, Bernadette for letting me visit!