Drop-dead luscious she may well be, but Julia Roberts isn't the most of gifted of actresses. Straight drama? No. Accents? Mary Reilly. Sparkly fairy in fantasy flop? So-so. Comedy? Well, it's time to give the woman her dues. Push a funny role her way and that star quality will sparkle. Think of Pretty Woman, the film that made her name in the first place, and then watch My Best Friend's Wedding, a rom com so fall-off-the-seat funny that, after watching it, you'll leave the multiplex with a grin wider than Roberts' mouth.
Directed by PJ Hogan, the Aussie responsible for Muriel's Wedding, this Chicago-set piece serves up the same quirky, wacky nuptial fun but on a more lavish budget. It harbours a similarly malicious streak too. Julia is, after all, hellbent on her own happiness at the expense of everybody else's - but the comedy is as witty, clever and colourful as the bride's bouquet, and the confetti-littered finale bodes well for happy- ever-afters.
What's a poor girl to do when her college sweetheart announces he's getting married? Sabotage the proceedings, of course, and who cares if his fiancée, the impossibly perfect Cameron Diaz, - gets her little heart broken? "I have to be ruthless," Julia tells gay pal George (played to the chiffon-draped hilt by Rupert Everett); with his help, she spins a sticky web of untruths that culminates in the (surprisingly funny) sight of an entire restaurant of guests singing I Say A Little Prayer.
Lusted after by two of the most beautiful women on planet Earth, Mulroney ends up little more than a handsome blank. Everett is the complete opposite, camping it up wonderfully, and Diaz brings the house down with a truly diabolical karaoke rendition of Bacharach's I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself. Hogan loves his cheesy songs; he even finds time for a cover of John Denver's excruciating Annie's Song, side-crackingly squawked by a trio of kids on helium.
But this is mere detail, because My Best Friend's Wedding (scripted by Rain Man scribe Ronald Bass) is really the Julia Roberts Show. Here she banishes all memories of Mary Reilly and I Love Trouble with a lively, nay sparkling, - performance. Smiling that killer smile, shedding those winning tears, delivering great lines ("He just flew in from New York for a few hours to fuck me") with effortless charm, Roberts is back where she rightly belongs - not in grey period costume, but as the sexy queen of laughs. The rom com lives on.
A woman behaving badly, Julia Roberts lies, cheats and quips her way through a comedy of manners. Motoring along on a tankful of romance, this is 100 per cent feel-good fare - - a perfect date movie, and a film that proves Roberts isn't as crap as we all thought she was.
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