Realizing that although I’d seen many, many movies in my life, I still hadn’t seen enough, I recently created a list of the 500 Best Movies I’ve Never Seen. As I attempt to watch them all, I will write about my experiences seeing classics (and some not-so-classics) for the first time. Warning: these are spoiler-ridden posts, as the films are all past their time in theaters (some, long, long past). If you haven’t seen the film I recommend you first see it and then read. If it’s on the list it’s probably worth seeing.
3. My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) P.J. Hogan
I started my list a little heavy with Pulp Fiction and Blade Runner and so for my second film I decided to try some lighter fair. This is one of the films I’ve never seen just because of timing. It came out when I was six years old, and by the time I was old enough for it, I had other rom-coms to fill my life that were more current. It also wasn’t one of the 90s movies/shows that my older sisters, in their infinite wisdom, allowed my young self to view a shade too early (see 10 Things I Hate About You, Friends, and My Cousin Vinny).
I had the basic premise of the movie. Woman’s best friend gets engaged. She’s really in love with him. She sets off to the wedding in an attempt to win him from the bride. Hilarity ensues. However, I was not prepared for the sheer amount of pain I would go through while watching the film. I am someone who has trouble with embarrassing humor for the simple fact that it makes me embarrassed just by watching it. I don’t laugh at their misfortune, but rather I get physically uncomfortable to be associated with them, even though they’re fictional and inside my TV. I have the urge to close my eyes or hide or even jump behind my couch every time something embarrassing happens in film or television. I love American Pie, but I spent most of the movie with a pillow over my face.
And so My Best Friend’s Wedding was actually really hard for me to sit through. Julia Roberts’ Julianne is supposed to be the character we sympathize with. She’s stylish. She’s from New York. She has big hair. She has a gay best friend. She’s in love with Michael, her best friend and groom-to-be, who is marrying some snippy little preppy sorority girl named Kimmy (a young and pearl-bedecked Cameron Diaz). Clearly, she’s our heroine. But I’ve never seen a character in a film who was meant to the be the protagonist do so many horrible things in so little time.
Seriously, Julianne displays behavior in the 105 minutes the film runs that I would classify as psychotic. She undermines the bride at every turn, not in a fun I’m-better-than-you kind of way but in a sociopathic I-will-do-horrible-things-to-you-to-make-you-look-bad way. She forces Kimmy to sing karaoke when she clearly sucks. She tricks poor Kimmy into trying to get Michael to quit his job. She sneaks into Kimmy’s father’s office and sends a fake email to Michael’s boss asking him to fire Michael. I’m sorry but, am I supposed to be rooting for this person to win the guy? Kimmy may wear preppy clothes and be significantly younger than Michael but at least she’s not a horrible human being. I was happy when she and Michael did end up together at the end.
But on further thought, I realized that the problem with the movie is not that the protagonist is unlikable; she actually doesn’t win in the end, and theoretically that is because she has grown. But rather, the problem is that the conceit of the movie is that women are crazy, and we should laugh at their antics. Seriously. That’s what the whole movie is about. When Julianne claims that her gay best friend George is actually her fiance in a desperate attempt to make Michael jealous, we are supposed to laugh instead of thinking that it’s sad and pathetic. They actually managed to make a romantic comedy that is severely more degrading to women than the average fair. And honestly, it wasn’t even that funny.
My Best Friend’s Wedding is now ranked 511/710 movies on my Flick Chart.