Comfort Movies part 2

Once upon a time Julia Roberts was the most famous woman in the world. You couldn’t escape those widespread eyes, the long, slender nose,  the famous mouth Hugh Grant once classily claimed was so big, he heard a faint echo when he kissed her. 

She was the first woman to command $20 million a picture. Once upon a time this in itself was a big deal, a sign of progress. Now  it just seems exorbitant.

The new millenium was the beginning of the end for Julia, the star! Sure, there was Erin Brokovich in 2000, the Ocean remakes in 2001 and 2004 respectively, a few other roles here and there, and the saccharine Eat Pray Love. 

But the ’90s were truly Roberts’ decade. She was the biggest, brightest heavenly entity of them all.

As we begin the second decade of the aughties, Roberts’s romantic comedies seem like classics now. We live in a dry spell, romance comedy-wise. Films that were just alright in the ’80s and ’90s, (French Kiss and One Fine Day  par exemple) are fresh and original in this age of tumescent  Love Actually wannabes (and Love Actually wasn’t that great to begin with).

Roberts had Pretty Woman, Notting Hill, Terms of Endearment and My Best Friend’s Wedding, all well-regarded staples of the genre.

But my favorite of all the Roberts’ rom com vehicles is the oft-neglected,  ‘minor’ film Runaway Bride. 

I still remember the video cover vividly.

A beaming Julia Roberts with equine chest nut hair, sits in profile as she ties her sneakers, clad in an ivory wedding gown. Richard Gere, staring sheepishly at the camera, sits opposite her.

I don’t remember where we got the video.

I do remember loving it.

What was it about this utterly predictable,  kind of problematic  film that captured my fancy? I can’t say for sure. Watching it now is like entering some strange, alternative ’90s world where people still read newspapers religiously, and that newspaper was USA TODAY and not the New York Post or the Times and people had cell phones as big as bricks and overalls were a thing.

Richard Gere plays Ike Graham,  conceited, insufferable caricature of the big city reporter. He’s a columnist for USA TODAY and he decides to write a column about maneating women, using Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts), a small towngirl who likes to leave men at the altar, as his piece de resistance. Because his source was a drunk guy at a bar and Carpenter sends a scathing letter to Graham’s editor, Graham gets fired. Seeking vindication, he travels to Hale, Maryland, to catch Carpenter in the act of jilting her betrothed.

Naturally, Graham and Carpenter fall in love.

So the plot is a little dicey.

But there are some fine supporting characters that vivify the comedy. Joan Cusack is the consummate quirky best friend. There’s a nice, troubled family subtext that partially explains Maggie’s flightiness. Hector Elizondo and Christopher Meloni are always welcome.

The film is a hard PG. I could watch it with my parents and feel only moderately uncomfortable.

I also  love the ending credits. (Starts at 4:43). That song was my jam.  Like Father of the Bride (so I do appear to have this weakness for wedding movies), Runaway Bride offers a nice, sanitized version of America. It makes you feel good. The movie literally ends with Roberts and Gere riding into the distance! 

I’ll be darned if that doesn’t make an impression on a 10 -year -old girl.

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2 Comments on “Comfort Movies part 2”

  1. Matt Stewart says:

    I was never a big Julia Roberts fan, which is a shame I suppose. Needless to say Runaway Bride was never on my list, but I was reluctantly forced to watch it once, and actually enjoyed it!

    Nice work!


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