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Runaway Bride (A Movie Review)

Runaway Bride


Starring Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Joan Cusack, Hector Elizondo, Rita Wilson, Paul Dooley, Laurie Metcalf, Christopher Meloni, Donal Logue, Sela Ward, Larry Miller and Garry Marshall.

Screenplay by Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott.

Directed by Garry Marshall.

Distributed by Touchstone Pictures. 116 minutes. Rated PG.

Garry Marshall can’t help it. I’m sure he is a very nice guy, but as a director, everything he touches takes on a sticky-sweet saccharine taste. A re-teaming of Marshall with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere – who with Pretty Woman gave Marshall his last hit nine long years ago – Runaway Bride is Marshall’s most watchable film in years. (No great shakes for a guy who brought us Exit To Eden, Dear God and The Other Sister.) 

Gere and Roberts still have a nice easy charm and good chemistry. But nothing else in this movie really works. Particularly annoying is Roberts’ quote-unquote idyllic hometown, which is so folksy and all-American that the cast of Green Acres would gag at the contrivances. This is also one of those movies that has characters do and say things they would never do in real life – just to set up a (usually weak) punch line. 

Runaway Bride has a weird, skewed world view that has everyone in the world reading USA Today, and the entire country getting swept up into a fervor about Roberts after she was mentioned in a short paragraph of an article that would have to climb up several stories to reach the level of filler. Family and lifetime friends of Roberts go against her will and sell her out to the charming big city reporter they’ve never even met without even the slightest hesitation. 

The film tries to rationalize and trivialize Roberts’ tendency to leave men at the altar, but it never goes beyond a surface level on what makes her act this borderline-sociopathic way. Because of the stars, Runaway Bride is a pleasant diversion, but it doesn’t have even a passing resemblance to real life. (8/99)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©1999 All rights reserved. Posted: August 3, 1999.


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