A quaint romantic comedy that brings Southern hospitality to the screen.
Andy Tennant's romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama (2002) is a fun story with a few neat twists and a lot of heart. Although the end is predictable, the ride there is sweet as molasses. I found Tennant's direction serviceable, if basic. Douglas J. Eboch's story is adorable, though riddled with cliches. I think C. Jay Cox' script brings a genuine warmth and Southern sincerity that makes Sweet Home Alabama ring true.
I do find the underlying theme of democrats, Northerners, and liberals being bad to be tasteless and ridiculous in Sweet Home Alabama. The endless references to The Confederacy is dated, conservative, and odd. The South left The Union and should not be glorified as heroes in their own right. This rom-com makes a case on behalf of Southern to have a twisted pride over their past. I just don't think this makes for a good look or theme.
Regardless, Reese Witherspoon is delightful and fierce as always as a Southern belle turned New York socialite designer, who is forced to go home to Alabama. Her charisma is as beguiling as her charm. Witherspoon brings a biting wit and quick delivery that is so natural to her. She elevates Sweet Home Alabama to a very sweet romance.
Josh Lucas plays the distraught redneck and gentle lover well. His abrasive introduction yields a kinder inner peace that is interesting to watch unfold. Patrick Dempsey is kindly, yet dull as the democratic fiancee Reese's character.
Fred Ward is hilarious as Earl. Mary Kay Place is endearing and commanding as Pearl. Candice Bergen is funny as the mayor of New York, with all of her elitism. Jean Smart is so direct and captivating. I liked her a lot in Sweet Home Alabama. Lastly, I must mention the ever kind friend played Ethan Embry, who gives his character a genuine warmth and likable personality. He feels rare in a Southern setting and a refreshing change of pace.
The Southern rock soundtrack, beautiful natural surroundings, and Southern charm welcome you to a movie filled with laughter, emotion, and a cute coon dog. The scene with Reese Witherspoon in the coon dog graveyard is perhaps my favorite scene displaying Reese's dramatic talent as well as Josh Lucas' sympathetic portrayal of a man who lost the love of his life. The beach finale is lovely too! I think this is a sweet romantic comedy, despite its flaws.