Reese Witherspoon's latest arrives in the UK riding high on the success of a $37-million opening weekend in the States - - and those tills just keep on ker-chinging. That many moviegoers can't be wrong, right? Well, not if you're a teenage girl. The rest of us will be left feeling a little nauseous.
The team behind the 'Spoon's latest serving has stuck strictly to the manual. We're briefly informed her character, Melanie Carmichael, is a big-city fashion designer who's just got engaged to the mayor's son. But her impending nuptials are quickly thrown into chaos when her hubbie-to-be announces that he wants to meet her parents. Trouble is, she's led him to believe they're rich landowners, when really they're white trash yokels. One other thing: our heroine's already married to childhood sweetheart Jake Perry (Josh Lucas).
Never quite sure if it wants Melanie to be perky or cranky, it's impossible to know whether to root for or against her. One moment she's acting every bit as adorably as we've come to expect from a Reese Witherspoon character; the next she's angrily demanding that Jake grant her a divorce. In Election, her bitchy core wasn't a problem because that was the character; here, her monstrous moaning is simply a `flaw' that we're meant to forgive. Of course, the finale wraps everything up with a neat bow on top, but when some real emotion is introduced to draw our sympathy, it merely feels like manipulation.
American viewers might have been won over by Witherspoon's charm offensive, but Legally Blonde's muted performance proved we're more resistant over here. On the evidence of this, we should stay that way for now.
Crammed with clichés, lazy laughs and characters ripped straight out of Deep South Stock Characters 'R' Us, Reese's latest wants to be bittersweet. But it's pure fondant fancy all the way.