My Best Friend's Wedding: Special Edition
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Starring Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz,
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Review by Betsy Bozdech
"Every single day of a film is like staging a wedding, and you get to the end of the day, the wedding was a big success or it wasn't. You can't really enjoy the successful day, because you've got another wedding tomorrow."
Director P.J. Hogan
"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."
Julianne Potter (Julia Roberts)
She may have started out at a loss, but Julianne "Jules" Potter (Julia Roberts) gets up to speed awfully quickly in P.J. Hogan's fast-paced 1997 romantic comedy My Best Friend's Wedding. She plots. She schemes. She connives. She is, in her own words, "the bad guy." And she's utterly charming the whole time.
In fact, it's probably safe to say that Roberts' winning performance in My Best Friend's Wedding and the film's consequent success at the box office is one of the main factors in her current $20 million-per-movie superstardom. After all, until My Best Friend's Wedding came out in 1997, Roberts hadn't had a real hit since 1993's The Pelican Brief other attempts at thrillers, both light (I Love Trouble) and dark (Mary Reilly) bombed, and flicks like Something to Talk About, Everyone Says I Love You, and Prêt-à-Porter never took off, either. What was a girl to do but return to the genre that had made her famous?
Luckily she picked a winner. As commitment-phobic food critic Julianne, who decides she's in love with her best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) the day he tells her he's marrying someone else, Roberts grins and hair-tosses her way through a series of malicious plans designed to derail the wedding and win Michael back. Unfortunately for Jules, Michael is 100 percent head-over-heels in love with his adorable rich-girl fiancé Kimmy (a fresh-faced Cameron Diaz, before her superstar turn in There's Something About Mary). But it takes all her schemes blowing up in her face plus some well-timed words of reason from editor/friend George (Rupert Everett) for Jules to accept the truth and throw in the towel.
It's a clever premise, and it pays off. Sure, some of the dialogue is trite (the opening scene between Jules and George is artificial exposition of the worst kind), but as romantic comedies go, My Best Friend's Wedding is fresh and fairly original. Not only does Roberts have to chase the guy, but we get to watch her fall on her face literally and figuratively too. It's movies like this (and Mystic Pizza, Pretty Woman, and Erin Brockovich) in which Roberts is her most accessible and down-to-earth, when her movie-star smile seems conspiratorial instead of practiced perfection. This is the Julia Dave Letterman loves, and it's not hard to see why.
But even Julia Roberts needs help from other people to make a movie. Australian director P.J. Hogan, the man behind the engaging Aussie ABBA-fest Muriel's Wedding, brought some much-needed quirkiness to what could otherwise have been a standard Hollywood romantic comedy (Runaway Bride, anyone?). His musical interludes, from the opening "Wishin' and Hopin'" credits sequence to the surreally funny "Say a Little Prayer" sing-along scene, are some of the brightest spots in the movie.
Hogan also had the good sense to expand George's role once Everett was cast. The dry, dapper Brit steals all his scenes, especially the ones in which George, who's gay, pretends to be Jules' fiancé. And he completely makes the ending, which was re-shot when test audiences didn't like the original finale. In fact, the entire supporting cast is strong, from Susan Sullivan as Kimmy's white-bread mom to Rachel Griffiths and Carrie Preston as the pair of Southern "venegeful slut" cousins. The only weak spot is Mulroney, who's sweet and appealing as Michael, but never quite worthy of the effort Jules puts into winning him back.
My Best Friend's Wedding has been out on DVD since 1997 a bare-bones disc that excitedly offers "interactive menus!" and both full- and widescreen options. Columbia TriStar's new Special Edition release loses the former, wisely going with a pristine, digitally mastered 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. The Dolby 5.1 and 2.0 tracks have also been digitally mastered; other language choices include French, Spanish, and Portuguese, plus a bevy of subtitles: English, French, Spanish Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
The menus are still interactive, but this time they're designed to look like a wedding album, with different pages showcasing different features. Surprisingly for a special edition, there's no commentary track, but you probably won't miss it since the disc does include a pair of decent "making-of" featurettes from 1997, which offer interviews with Hogan, Roberts, Everett, Diaz, Sullivan, producer Jerry Zucker, and writer Ron Bass. First is "Unveiled: My Best Friend's Wedding," a 15-minute look behind the scenes that includes a quick glimpse at the original ending, some good candid footage (enjoy Roberts' unintended pratfall), and plenty of the kind of "he/she was so great to work with" luvvies that's usually half of a standard commentary track anyway. "On the Set: My Best Friend's Wedding" is a 20-minute special that originally aired on HBO; it offers much of the same interview and behind-the-scenes footage as "Unveiled," plus an interview with Mulroney, who is nowhere to be seen in the other featurette.
The disc's extras don't stop there. You'll also find:
- "My Best Friend's Wedding Album": A seven-minute featurette that offers footage of the movie's locations (Comiskey Park, Marshall Field's, etc.) accompanied by text factoids, Pop-Up Video-style. (Sample fact: Julia Roberts was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in the film.)
- "Say a Little Prayer Sing-Along": Everyone's favorite goofy scene is isolated, with the song's lyrics running, karaoke-style, across the bottom of the screen. It's a fun way to watch that bit of the movie repeatedly.
- "Wedding Do's and Don'ts": A strange little five-minute featurette, apparently produced for this DVD, that pairs silent movie footage with tongue-in-cheek narration about how to plan a wedding. It's really not related to the movie at all, but it's kind of cute.
The disc also includes filmographies for Hogan, Roberts, Mulroney, Diaz, and Everett, plus printed production notes, trailers for other Columbia TriStar DVDs, and some DVD-ROM content, including a "Who's the One for Me?" quiz and a wedding slide show. Altogether, it's a substantial improvement over the previous release, and fans of the movie definitely will enjoy it.
- Anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1)
- Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby 2.0 Surround (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
- English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai subtitles
- Featurette: "Unveiled: My Best Friend's Wedding" (15 min.)
- Featurette: "On the Set: My Best Friend's Wedding" (20 min.)
- My Best Friend's Wedding Album
- Wedding Do's and Dont's
- "Say a Little Prayer" Sing-Along
- Production notes
- Scene selection
- DVD-ROM features
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