Directed by: Andy Tennant
Running time: 107 minutes
Release Date: September 27, 2002
Can you go home again? Melanie Carmichael, uh, Spooner, er Perry (depending on whether you live in Alabama or New York City), played by Reese Witherspoon, ventures to find out in the romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama.
Melanie Carmichael is an up and coming New York based fashion designer who seemingly has the perfect life; a fantastic career, an enviable relationship with her handsome and wealthy politician boyfriend, Andrew Henning (Peter Dempsey) and wonderful friends. After a whirlwind romance, Andrew proposes in fairy-tale grandeur and Melanie accepts, much to the chagrin of his domineering mother, Kate Henning (Candice Bergin), who also happens to be Mayor of New York City.
It would seem that Melanie's perfect world couldn't be any more ideal until reality sets in and she has to return to her hometown in Alabama to confront her past, namely her husband, Jake Perry (Josh Lucas).
Melanie Spooner and Jake began as childhood sweethearts, to become high school sweethearts to become husband and wife to eventually crossing the very thin line that divides love and loathing. They have unresolved issues from their past that must be urgently addressed. The problem is neither one is ready to resolve them, whether they realize it or not.
Upon her return to small-town Alabama, Melanie is also constantly reminded her often felonious past and how she earned the nickname ‘Felony Melanie’ as a youth. The dialogue between she and her victims helps the audience understand Melanie’s frame of mind and sense of spirit and reveals that her move to New York City made perfect sense.
Felony Melanie notwithstanding, Melanie’s past comes flying at her throughout the film. Whether it's torturing Jake, reconnecting with old acquaintances at her mother-in-law Stella's (Jean Smart) bar or mending fences with her somewhat estranged parents, Earl and Pearl, smartly played by Fred Ward and Mary Kay Place, respectively, Melanie is forced to take an honest look at her present and her future and decide if she’s content with both. As Melanie spends more time in Alabama and flirts with the idea of going home again, the present appears in the form of a surprise visit from her fiancé and everyone involved must search deep within themselves to ponder the true meaning of what a soul mate is and the sacrifices they must undertake to be with them.
Sweet Home Alabama manages to successfully bring to light the adage of loving and letting go. There are serious moments brought forward, however they are quickly balanced with light humor. It is, after all, a romantic comedy and maintains Southern charm throughout; with deep-southern phrases such 'put on the dog' and 'can't ride two horses with one ass.' If you're looking for a sharply written romantic comedy that has a few surprises, but ultimately sticks to the formula then Sweet Home Alabama is it.