Before you flame me, I admit up front that I completely dreaded sitting through this movie. If you read the rest of this review and still want to complain, you’re an idiot and I don’t know why you read my stuff anyway. That said, about the only thing that could have made this worse would have been for it to star Roberto Benigni, but then it would have been called the “Runaway Ego”. Now, before you flame me for bagging on Benigni again, keep in mind that I’ve already received around 50 death threats because of it, and if that didn’t stop me, I’m just going to laugh at you.
Now back to the movie. Earlier in the summer, Julia Roberts was typecast as a spoiled, prickly movie star. Now she’s typecast as a girlfriend/fiancee from HELL. Three times she has walked down the alter. Three times she booked out of there as fast as she could, spooked like a gazelle. Ike Graham (Richard Gere) is a newspaper columnist for USA Today (substituting for the New York Times who felt they didn’t need the humiliation) who writes about the bride, Maggie Carpenter, after he runs into one of the jilted suitors at a bar. Ike portrays her as the Anti-Christ and gets a few facts wrong, so Maggie gets him fired. As Maggie is about to walk down the aisle with sucker #4 (a character completely ripped off from the IMAX documentary, “Everest”), Ike is determined to catch her dumping him too. OH, HOW WILL IT END? Mediocrity ensues.
If you can’t figure out how this masterpiece is going to end by the trailers alone, well, maybe this is your kind of film. All I had to hear about was the celluloid reunion of Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. Sure, Entertainment Tonight keeps telling me that Julia is America’s sweetheart, but in every movie she strikes me just as being some poor guy’s truly psychotic girlfriend that all of his friends hate. Not to worry though, if you can’t perceive how charming she is, everyone in the movie will verbally remind you every five minutes or so. Before you send the hate mail, remember this is a PERSONAL opinion and impervious to all logic (and I’ll probably laugh at you).
The kicker for me would be the “Pretty Woman” reunion of director Garry Marshall. Marshall has never met a heart he didn’t want to just tug right out of its chest. The director has always laid on the schmaltz like cheese on a Sicilian pizza. Here’s the man who took a dark script about a street prostitute and a millionaire called “$3000”, and turned it into the touchy-feely fest that made Julia a star. The creator of both “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley” turned Anne Rice’s erotic novel, “Exit to Eden”, into a zany crime caper with Dan Aykroyd and Rosie O’Donnell. It seems as if the only direction he gave Juliette Lewis as a mentally retarded young adult was, “play it like Laverne, only dumber.” Don’t get me started about “Frankie and Johnny”.
Now Garry never seems to lack for work. I sometimes wonder if the studios keep hiring him because they know exactly what they’re going to get, he gets along with everyone, and he wouldn’t offend or harm anyone or anything (other than logic and rational behavior). In interviews, Marshall comes off as your funny uncle who always bought you candy, but always calls you by the wrong name.
At this point, the director’s films don’t seem to be drawn from a coherent vision as much as assembled from the pieces of many failed sitcoms held together by the kind of pop psychology that can fit on a bubble gum wrapper”.
“The hard-drinking journalist has an ex-wife for his editor.” “Opposites attract.” “If two people start off by hating each other, they will eventually fall in love.” “New Yorkers are sophisticated people who dress only in sunglasses and black clothes and listen to jazz.”
A gentler man might say that, ‘”Runaway Bride” exceeds my suspension of disbelief.” I prefer to say, “it blows past my bullshit tolerance.” During one wedding, the bride escapes by hopping on a Fed Ex truck, that just happens to be sitting outside a rural church on a Sunday afternoon. Even thought the film takes place in the present, videotape of Maggie’s first wedding looks like it took place at Woodstock, because, you know, kids today are into the hippie thing.
Would it have been possible for Ike to have a stage of “like” in between “burning hatred”, and “madly in love”? Did it have to come when she tries on a dress that he bought for her, strangely recalling an earlier film by the same stars and director? Just in case the sitcom dialogue or sheer incredulity distract you from the sheer enchantment of this epic, Marshall will cut to a shot of a cute kid or a dog to curry favor with the heart over the mind. Rock beats scissors and my nausea roundly defeated the heartwarming romance.
I realize some viewers out there may actually find this movie to be a magical and wonderful experience. Perhaps Garry Marshalls’ filmography has been a great source of pleasure and peace in your life. Everybody should have something of that nature. If so, please write in. After sitting through this two-hour purgatory, I could use a good laugh.