I had a feeling this one would be right up my alley. I was born and raised in the South and moved to a cosmopolitan city as a young adult, so I figured the You-Can’t-Take-The-South-Out-Of-The-Girl trope would have me wrapped around Sweet Home Alabama‘s finger. Directed by Andy Tennant in 2002, I certainly thought having Reese Witherspoon in it would make it a sure-fire heart-warming success.
If you’re waiting for me to say, “….but” here it comes:
My Rating: 6/10
- Was it entertaining? 7/10
- Did it have The Heart? 6/10
- Were the characters likable? 5/10
- What about the plot? 5/10
- How did it look? 8/10
- How did it sound? 8/10
- Would it be good today? 3/10
Now, I get it, the South has a lot of issues. Heck, the lowest score I gave it was the 3/10 for how it would fare in theaters today and the reason was I don’t think audiences today would take too kindly to some of the blasé references to “the South will rise again!” and the amount of Confederate flags present in the movie. I think it would have been alright if it was just centered around the historical re-enactments, but there were a few quotes that were a little too nationalist for my taste.
It also didn’t strike me as that wholesome, homecoming, pride-in-your-roots. I think it attempted at that, but more often than not it seemed to laugh at Southerners. The jokes seemed to be pointing out how absurd those people act, rather than celebrate their culture as a legitimate culture. It looked down on the South, and I’m really tired of that.
Criticize the South for some of its backwards ideologies, that’s fine and valid, but quit saying it’s full of a bunch of uneducated, stupid hicks.
^Exactly. It would have lines like this where it seemed to be hinting at crediting Southerners as being, well, people, but there were many more incidents where the teasing felt a little mean-spirited.
I looked it up and the director is from Chicago, a much different culture than the South, which explains why it felt phony to me.
That being said, I didn’t feel the plot and characters were believable. Melanie and Jake had a rough, toxic dynamic, while Melanie and her fiancé, Andrew, were sweet and kind towards each other. A little shallow, maybe, but not toxic. I didn’t like the ending, her re-marrying her husband who had been cold and immature to her the entire movie. What, was she then going to give up her fashion career? The life she built, just gone? Yikes.
There was a subplot thrown in about a miscarriage that seemed like it attempted to add weight to their relationship but honestly it felt like it cheapened the grief people who go through miscarriages experience. It didn’t compel me to like their dynamic.
The whole Jake-went-to-New-York thing didn’t either. It was a poor attempt at the chase-after-her trope.
So much yikes in one gif.
Overall, the movie was well-made. Well-shot, good use of sound, no complaints there. I wasn’t bored watching it and I think I gave it points in The Heart criterion because I wanted to like it. I wanted it to be this beautiful marriage of a life built and a home past, and sure, the whole glass-sculpture thing was really sweet, but I think this movie fell flat for me.
There was a canonically LGBTQ+ character, which was good especially for a 2002 movie set in rural Alabama, so yay? I guess? That was a happy surprise on my part but overall? Not my favorite movie.