20 Movies 20 Years Later

A Rom-Com Flipped The Genre On Its Head, And Taught Us A Few Things About Love And Life In The Process

"My Best Friend's Wedding" turns 20 this year.

20 Movies 20 Years Later remembers and explores the films that touched us back then and still resonate today. Join A Plus as we rewatch movies released in 1997 and celebrate their contributions to pop culture.

Julia Roberts' position as America's sweetheart was pretty solid by 1997, having become everyone's favorite hooker in Pretty Woman, and padded her résumé with everything from The Pelican Brief to Dying Young. It seems like, in films, she'd be the perfect best friend — but her role in My Best Friend's Wedding challenged that, as well as the traditional happy ending for a romantic comedy.

Roberts' Julianne Potter — a successful New York food critic — made a semi-serious deal with her best friend, Michael O'Neal (Dermot Mulroney), who is a sports columnist, when the two were in college. The pact is that if neither is married by the time they're 28, they'll marry each other. Throughout the years, Julianne ignored her true feelings for Michael, but they became obvious once she learned he was getting married to Kimmy (Cameron Diaz), the daughter of a guy who just so happens to own a Chicago baseball team.

While Kimmy steals Michael's heart — and just about everyone else's in the process of their courtship — Julianne has a late realization that she's in love with her best friend and sets out to break up the marriage before it even starts. This is hardly what we'd expect from a character played by America's sweetheart. But Julianne isn't letting her best friend get married without a fight, even though she was asked to be Kimmy's maid of honor, and maybe kinda asked her boss George (Rupert Everett) to kinda pretend to be her fiancé in an attempt to win Michael's affections.

Hey, no one said this situation wouldn't be messy!

What captivates the viewer's most, perhaps, is the relatable yet not always so innocent, hoops that Roberts' character jumps through within the film to stop the marriage, compounding lies or simply (or not so much) manipulating any opportunity that'll make Michael reconsider his decision and discover he loves her more than Kimmy.

Kimmy, who is by no means always perfect, has a few plans of her own that are unknown to Michael. While she does have some dark demons, it's hard to counter that she's deserving of the manipulation she endures at the hands of Roberts' Julianne.

Of course, we can all share stories of broken hearts and our desire to stand in the way of loves lost, but that's not a quality to pride ourselves on. The "villainous" pranks are thought out to genius levels, and keep us on our toes all throughout the movie — and laughing and cringing at the same time.

Slapstick comedy is thrown around lavishly throughout the film but is also broken up by some fun and emotional scenes that take you on a roller coaster of confusion, likely thinking "I would never" and "Oh gosh, I did that, too!" in the process.

But the strength of the film may lie in the fact that (SPOILER) Roberts' character doesn't get the guy in the end — and that her character's not relegated to complete sadness as a result. She still has her best friend, she knows life can move on and she'll find happiness, and she's got other things — such as her career and other future prospects — to propel her forward. Forget turning the rom-com trope on its head, My Best Friend's Wedding also expands expectations women can have in love,

My Best Friend's Wedding is available on AmazonGoogle PlayiTunesNetflix, and YouTube.

Cover image: TriStar Pictures

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