Big Hollywood screws Reese

Reese Witherspoon’s career is headed down the toilet with Sweet Home Alabama

The blinding glow of Patrick’s newly bleached teeth forces Reese and Candice to avert their eyes.

The blinding glow of Patrick’s newly bleached teeth forces Reese and Candice to avert their eyes.

Rated 1.0

I couldn’t give a damn how many brain-dead romance movies the likes of Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock waste their time in. I do start to care when Reese Witherspoon, an extremely talented actress, starts showing up in films worse than You’ve Got Mail and Miss Congeniality. Sweet Home Alabama represents what will hopefully be the low point of a promising career.

Yep, Big Hollywood has noticed that somebody has charm and winning charisma, and it’s going to milk the living shit out of that star power. No need for her vehicles to have intelligence or originality. Let’s just shove Reese into some fish-out-of-water scenarios, and let her cute smile and bright eyes power the picture through all the moments of stunning ineptitude. Big Hollywood don’t give a rat’s ass how bad the film is, because their star of the moment, Reese Witherspoon, has her name over the title, guaranteeing the big bucks.

Witherspoon plays Melanie, a New York City fashion designer being wooed by the mayor’s son (Patrick Dempsey), who proposes to her in the Tiffany’s showroom after renting it out. Before she can marry Andrew and live a life of selfish indulgence, she must return to her home, Pigeon Creek, Ala., where unfinished business and countless tired riffs on rednecks await.

Turns out that Melanie is still the legal wife of redneck Jake (Josh Lucas), who has refused to sign off on a divorce for the past seven years. The two were grade school sweethearts whose first kiss was separated by a bolt of lightning striking the same place twice.

Get it? Lightning struck the same place twice, and it just could strike twice for Jake and Melanie. You might even get to see it happen, provided you don’t purposefully crush your head in a theater seat to spare yourself from watching it.

Pigeon Creek comes replete with all your Southern clichés. You just know somebody’s going to have a big bloodhound, that the local bar is going to have a regular patron hiding his homosexuality and that there will be at least one Civil War reenactment.

What you didn’t know is that Melanie’s dad, played by Fred Ward, forces visitors to sit in his reclining chair, where he mercilessly pulls the handle and makes the unwilling participant—of all things—recline. They just sit in the chair, and, whoosh, they are shot backwards with a big wide-eyed, mouth-agape look upon their faces. Director Andy Tennant sees it fit to strike us with this momentous sight gag not once, but twice. Your comedy is in big trouble when its biggest joke is centered on a Lazy Boy.

Lending to the whole Ryan-Bullock vibe is Miss Congeniality‘s Candice Bergen, playing the mayor of New York City. Say, Andy Tennant, after all that NYC has been through in the past year, do you think it might be ill-timed to portray the mayor of New York City as someone more concerned about where her son gets married than the welfare of her city? Better yet, could you have cast anyone else in the world to play the mayor other than the mugging, untalented Bergen?

Witherspoon, who took an unwelcome step towards this sort of trash with the slightly better Legally Blonde, doesn’t belong in films like this. She’s like a gold coin tossed into a pigpen, a white dove flying through LA smog, a U2 CD thrown into a collection of Garth Brooks’ albums.

With Legally Blonde 2 allegedly in the works, and Sweet Home Alabama sure to score a big box office, Witherspoon is most definitely being groomed as Meg Ryan’s heir apparent. God help us all.