All you need is Runaway Bride to prove exactly why Julia Roberts remains America’s sweetheart

Throughout the year, the National Post will be running a weekly series celebrating the films that made 1999 one of cinema’s high-water marks. We continue this week with Runaway Bride, the Julia Roberts rom-com that comes closest to explaining the seemingly everlasting appeal of America’s sweetheart.

On a recent first date, I spent 10 minutes recounting the plot to My Best Friend’s Wedding to a man who’d never seen it. We went out a few more times after that, but it didn’t work out. It couldn’t. I was eight years old when I saw the movie in theatres with my sister and my mom. I’ll never forget my mom wincing when Cameron Diaz called Julia Roberts a bitch. Yes, she was portraying the villain of the film, but Julia Roberts is not to be the target of anyone’s malice. Needless to say, my love runs deep for America’s sweetheart. It’s in my blood.


Nineteen-ninety-nine was a year unlike any other for Roberts. A decade after her breakthrough performance in Pretty Woman and two years since My Best Friend’s Wedding, audiences were further endeared by the ubiquitous name, face, smile and laugh of Roberts in Notting Hill. In the rom-com canon movie, she played “the most famous film star in the world” who falls in love with a simple bookshop owner (Hugh Grant). It was the perfect role for a perfect star.

But any Roberts fan could wax poetically about Notting Hill. What I’m writing about is the unfairly maligned — and completely charming — Runaway Bride, which also came out that same magical year. In Runaway Bride, Roberts is Maggie Carpenter, a seemingly normal small-town hardware store owner who minds her own business and lives her life. She wears overalls and has a loving best friend (Joan Cusack) and fiancé (Christopher Meloni).

However, we soon learn about a sordid past. She has earned the nickname “runaway bride” for leaving three men at the altar. Her peculiar story catches the attention of big-time New York City newspaper columnist Ike Graham, played by Richard Gere (reunion!), who writes about it after one of Maggie’s scorned exes tells him part of the story at a bar. Ike is later fired by his editor (Rita Wilson — ‘90s casting!) for making parts of the story up and greatly embellishing other aspects. Naturally, he decides to go to Maggie’s small town to try to get a scoop before the next planned nuptials.

Roberts, flanked by Joan Cusack and Kathleen Marshall.

Hijinks ensue in classic rom-com style. There’s the fish-out-of-water bits of a big-city man acclimatizing to small-town friendliness (and nosiness). Then there’s the fact that Maggie wants to exact revenge on Ike. She gets her best friend, the town hairdresser, to paint his hair green, pink and blue. She gets him fired in the first place by writing a stern letter outlining all of his story’s inaccuracies. She even gives him a hard time when he tries to get to the bottom of what really happens when she tries …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News


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