This is a popcorn movie, a chick flick, that leaves a lot to be desired all around in the ethics department. Normally I am a huge fan of Julia Roberts but in this woeful tale, she fails to come across as her typical vulnerable and endearing self.
The improbable plot revolves around a food critic, Julianne, who learns just days before the wedding that her long time best friend (and former lover), Michael, is about to be married to a lovely rich, blonde girl named Kimberly. In fact Michael invites Jules to be...no, not his best man...but the maid of honour. Jules flies from her home in New York to Chicago for the wedding, not to wish the newlyweds well, but instead to steal Michael away from Kimmy and make sure the wedding never comes off at all. She has four days in which to convince the unsuspecting groom that she herself, not Kimmy, is the bride for him.
My first of many problems with this unlikely tale is that former lovers do not tend to make ideal best friends for all the reasons revealed in this movie, namely lingering passionate feelings and issues of jealousy. Furthermore, Jules's second best friend (as it were) is also a man...her editor, George, who conveniently happens to be gay. Does this girl not have any female friends at all, like most young women?
Actually, George comes off as the character in the movie with probably the most integrity, which isn't saying a lot in this tale of immoral fluff. He's a true friend to Julianne, flying from afar to be with her and offer comfort. He indeed gives Jules sound advice, namely to just tell the guy she loves him, and later when it's obviously not working out, to graciously let Michael go. However, George is cast as the stereotypical homosexual friend, which has all been done to death by Hollywood. Jules pretends to be engaged to George in order to elicit jealousy from Michael (just one of her countless lies), but this fabrication doesn't seem to go anywhere. They never really officially undo the ruse. By the way, I love Dionne Warwick's singing but found the entire singalong at the rehearsal dinner just too silly.
Jules is a stellar example of the old expression...With friends like her, who needs enemies? She's no friend at all to Michael (much less a BEST one), having no concern whatsoever for HIS happiness, until possibly the very end. Instead she's essentially nothing more than a jealous ex lover who lies, manipulates, and connives. Jules uses every trick in the book to split up Michael and his fiancée, including attempting to get Michael fired, allegedly at the behest of Kimmy and her dad. True, she repents of this horrendous deed, but it's hard to cheer for a "heroine" this unscrupulous. She doesn't get Michael in the end, nor does she deserve him. One gets the impression that this is not true love, but more a case of wanting what she cannot have. For some reason, Scarlett O'Hara came to mind while I was watching this.
Michael is indeed handsome, but the description that comes to mind here is "jerk". Frankly, Kimmy can have him! I wouldn't want to marry a man that reminisced ad nauseum about old memories with a former girlfriend right in front of me four days before our wedding. Is he too clueless here to perceive how left out and potentially jealous Kimmy feels? I was practically waiting for him to bring up past sexual escapades with Jules and expect Kimmy to politely listen! Michael is surely one of the most insensitive grooms ever to grace the big screen. Also, he sort of leads Jules on, dancing rather romantically with her while they recall their old song. Not to mention jocular references to her about having seen her naked in the past. Not my idea of a nice platonic friendship for a man about to marry another woman.
Personally, I was cheering for the loving bride to be, played to perfection by Cameron Diaz. Except that it's a little hard to buy her passive tolerance of her fiancé's rather unusual close friendship with his ex girlfriend or her colossal stupidity in not seeing through Jules's motivations from the start. Otherwise, she's definitely the sympathetic character of the piece, as when Jules sets out to humiliate her rival by insisting Kimmy sing at the karaoke bar, despite her vehement protests. Of course poor Kimmy is made to look like a female needing liberation when she announces that she's quitting college in the interests of her future husband and his career. Oh dear me no, it would never do for anyone entering a marriage to contemplate any sort of personal sacrifice! I found the whole ladies washroom scene near the end tasteless and ridiculous, when all the women are cheering on the potential verbal cat fight between Jules and Kimmy. Surely the screenwriters could have come up with better than this.
Just an aside, what is the point of the pathetic ice sculpture joke other than to be crude? I normally love the romantic comedy genre, but the quality seems to be sadly deteriorating these days. This isn't the absolute worst movie I've ever seen but really, it isn't that amusing a comedy nor is it much of a romance. Hopefully Jules experiences a bit of personal growth, but that's about all that can be said for this story.