A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
When she dumped Michael as a boyfriend in college, Julianne made him her new best friend. And they made a pact: If they were still single at 28, they'd marry each other. Now they're almost 28. And Michael is in Chicago. And wants Julianne to call him. She's touched. She has always really loved the guy. But he's not calling to propose. He's calling to explain he's engaged to be married in three days--to a junior at the University of Chicago, whose father owns the White Sox and a cable TV empire.
This is not good news for Julianne. P.J. Hogan's "My Best Friend's Wedding'' tells the story of how she tries to sabotage the wedding and win the man she should have married all along. And since Julianne, a famous food critic, is played by the luminous Julia Roberts, we know how the movie will end, right? Not necessarily.
One of the pleasures of Ronald Bass' screenplay is the way it subverts the usual comic formulas that would fuel a plot like this. It makes the Julia Roberts character sympathetic at first, but eventually her behavior shades into cruel meddling. It gives Kimmy Wallace (Cameron Diaz), the fiancee, goodness and warmth instead of a ditzy facade. It makes Michael (Dermot Mulroney) an intelligent player in the drama, rather than the easily manipulated male we might expect. And out of left field it brings in another character, George (Rupert Everett), who is Julianne's editor, gay and playfully wise.
The movie takes place over a few days in summer in Chicago. Julianne is devastated to learn that Michael is marrying this rich young beauty, and her strategy is simple: put on a happy face, pretend to go along and destroy from within. Kimmy knows she's got a formidable opponent, and her strategy is niceness: "You win. He's got you on a pedestal and me in his arms.'' She asks Julianne to be maid of honor.