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Overall Rating

Awesome: 23.84%
Worth A Look: 11.92%
Average: 16.56%
Pretty Bad: 19.87%
Total Crap27.81%

8 reviews, 103 user ratings

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Sweet Home Alabama
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by Erik Childress

"How Much Do I HATE This Movie?"
1 stars

Even when a romantic comedy is bad, it’s still kinda pleasant. Even when its routine and familiar, it can still generate a few smiles or the occasional laugh. I can’t explain where the Sweet Home Alabama project began but I knew that I couldn’t wait for it to end. This is one of the most painful, loathesomey, unfunny big studio, mainstream star vehicle comedies I’ve had to sit through in a long time. The 102 minutes is made all the more sadder in that its headlined by one of our most talented young actresses whom we may have lost to the double-digit paycheck.

Between this and last year’s Legally Blonde, I often wonder what the fuss is all about when it comes to selling a screenplay one has written. After all, what does it say when projects like these get greenlighted? Are the marketing executives just after a quick buck by selling a below-mediocre fluff piece with an attractive lead or are all the other scripts THAT bad? Wherever the answer lies, its nowhere in the vicinity of why Reese Witherspoon would attach herself to it? After a stunning debut in 1991’s The Man in the Moon and paying her dues around town, Reese truly came into her own with the cult popularity of her white trash criminal in Freeway (1996) and a pair of smart, original projects (Pleasantville and Election) that were critically acclaimed but whose collective box office failed to match the Dumb Fashion Bimbo goes to Law School movie.

She may not be a dumb bimbo (although its up for discussion) this time around, but Reese does play a fashion designer in New York named Melanie Carmichael. The mayor’s son, Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), her boyfriend of eight months arranges one of those movie proposals fitting for a socialite in the middle of Tiffany’s, sparking off the front pages of the tabloids when Mayor Mommy (Candace Bergen) inconceivably spills the beans in front of a parade of reporters and paparazzi. Melanie would have liked to keep this quiet, considering the skeletons in her dungeon include a Southern background she’s ashamed of and a first husband who has yet to grant her a divorce.

So she leaves the dicks of New York for the hicks of Alabama to get her papers signed for good. Hubby Jake (Josh Lucas) and Melanie shared their first kiss at ten and were promptly struck by lightning in a place where it shouldn’t have struck twice, but we pray strikes again by the end with more lethal results. For someone that has ulterior motives about sending the divorce papers back with his Jake Hickcock, it seems unlikely that he wouldn’t recognize Melanie when she pulls up. Oh, but she’s changed so much in seven years. “I gave my heart away a long time ago,” she says.

Just so we’re reminded, Melanie spends a quarter of the film reacquainting herself with about a half-dozen people (including Malachai from Children of the Corn), then another quarter apologizing to each and every one of them and for good reason. There’s a scene that takes place in a bar where she gets drunk with the guys over a few games of pool and starts airing the dirty laundry of the people she calls her friends. The ugliness and utter unredemption associated with her behavior makes it impossible for anyone to root for her happiness. She can apologize until the cows come home and get tipped and cry all she wants about her dead dog, Melanie was long dead to me and all the creative writing in the world wasn’t going to bring her back. But there’s no creative writing to be found anywhere so Melanie never stood a chance anyway.

I picture the screenwriter sitting in a room consumed by sausages, cabbage, gyros and beer consuming the odorous environment of his four food groups before-and-after gestation and gaseous exit, then translating it to the page in hopes of putting the audience through the same stench. The class structure hasn’t been this insulted since Nicolas Cage went from rich suits to middle class sweaters in The Family Man. Every Southern stereotype and joke is thrown on the barbecue (Melanie’s parents are Earl & Pearl. Others either passionately recreate Civil War battles or believe they are still in it.) We can joke that electricity hasn’t made it past the Mason-Dixon line, but what kind of a running joke involves the amazing invention of a chair with a built-in footrest?

These aren’t people in Sweet Home Alabama. Nor are they characters, caricatures or objects with the mental capacity to work their own motor functions for more than one frame at a time. The playful dialogue between the “dumb stubborn redneck hick” and the “hoity-toity Yankee bitch” consists of snappy banter like:

JAKE: “You might be taking me to the cleaners.”
“Cleaners? You?”

Jokes range from the musty to borderline racist (hiding a New York Post reporter from the black maid in a closet part of the “underground railroad.”) Everyone reinvents their motivations and their behaviors as the wind changes from Melanie and Jake’s feelings for each other to the hometown friends who have a right to be pissed at her forever to her fiance who seems ready to first call off the marriage because her last name is really Smooder and a second time because, I guess, he feels he’s received his comuppance for all his years of JFK Jr.’ing it through the Big Apple. (“So this is what this feels like?”) Weird that somewhere someone thought Dempsey’s character deserved this since he seems to be the most decent character in the entire film. For the record, the most significant credit on the resume of writer C. Jay Cox (and I use that term loosely) is a co-starring role in the scream queen fiesta, Nightmare Sisters (with Michelle Bauer, Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens.)

Director Andy Tennant (Fools Rush In, Ever After, Anna and the King) has absolutely no handle on the material whatsoever. Is it fish-out-of-water? Romance? Screwball comedy? With a cinematic compass planted firmly North up his ass, Tennant strives to cue the audience to the wackiness by throwing Rockford music on the soundtrack and drums to signify that the Mayor is an oh-so important political figure. I don’t know where to or even if its deserving to spew bile towards the actors since they were obviously just following orders. (You know, like the Nazis.) The attempt to turn Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind) into a blue-eyed romantic lead with a Southern drawl, I can only speculate because Matthew McConaughey wasn’t available. Candace Bergen embarrasses herself again playing the exact same character she did in Miss Congeniality and the always reliable Fred Ward gets saddled with another screen child I bet he wish were aborted. After all, Melanie was so cute when she was a Southerner, stealing catfish, drowning tractors, tippin’ cows and applying dynamite to euthanize cats. (Ward’s last three on-screen children were Jennifer Lopez in Enough, Freddie Prinze Jr. in Summer Catch and, well, Joe Dirt.)

“What this world needs is a few more rednecks. That way we’ll have someone to take a stand.” That’s a line from a song on the film’s soundtrack, so color me a Confederate flag and allow me to take a stand. YEE-HAW!!! This movie feeds off of stupidity like a racehorse on speed-flavored oats. It’s the sort of weak-minded innocuous garbage that keeps smart writers and talented filmmakers unemployed. Sweet Home Alabama is not pleasant, does not generate a few smiles or the occasional laugh, but rather a vomitous rumbling in your brain and stomach that keeps you thinking the South may rise again during the film. DO NOT support the trash, white or whatever, of Sweet Home Alabama. If a date or whomever requests to go see it, take them to the video store and rent Doc Hollywood with Michael J. Fox. You’ll thank me. If you think I’m being too harsh, your brainwaves may be on par with one C. Jay Cox who wrote the line “They’re critics. They hate themselves.” No smart guy, I hate you and your movie.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 09/27/02 03:32:54
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User Comments

3/02/21 morris campbell it was ok 2 stars
1/27/20 Lily English Unpleasant protagonist.Slugs the mother and gets applause! Immoral. 2 stars
12/23/17 tr If you miss an old boyfriend, this will rekindle your magical thinking 3 stars
6/21/17 Suzanne Hated it. This is not the south. Also not buying the choice made. Awful. 2 stars
1/17/17 Suzanne I liked that both guys were decent and handsome. Reece was a charmer. 4 stars
5/12/11 RLan It felt like a southern movie make by someone who spent very little time in the south! 2 stars
12/14/10 Tracy Landon I'm from the South & LOVE S.H.A. It reflects how Southerners have strong moral character! 5 stars
10/04/09 LoveIt Love the movie! Very funny and a wonderful story line! 5 stars
9/26/08 Shaun Wallner Funny Movie! 5 stars
8/30/08 JSICA WOW! OH EM GEE. Iono why I see one stars on here.. This is one of my favorite movies! 5 stars
5/15/08 cathy I loved this movie. We need more movies like this instead of the trash they are making now 5 stars
1/28/08 L.J. Worst movie I have ever seen. Nasty protagonist and horribly directed. 1 stars
10/29/07 mb loved it. Beautiful romantic story. 5 stars
9/02/07 jozee martel nice relax movie 5 stars
1/16/07 David Pollastrini Reese is hot! 3 stars
10/22/06 Vickie Loved it, and I am looking to move to a town just like it. 5 stars
9/28/06 Kayla Greatest chick flic ever!!!!! 5 stars
5/06/06 Ashley Hinz Saw it, loved it, bought it as soon as possible. 5 stars
1/09/06 Chris Worst Film Ever. 1 stars
11/15/05 piush good for people in love 4 stars
11/03/05 Priscilla Postlethwaite Pretty bad to barely avg, Sweet Home, Alabama is between Jenifer and Anniston. 3 stars
6/14/05 i am god can anyone say........STUPIDIST SHIT I EVER SEEN.. the ruined th title of a classic song 1 stars
2/17/05 Jeff Anderson Witherspoon is sadly wasted in this boring & predictable comedy, but Dempsey is TRULY GREAT 2 stars
11/24/04 Monster W. Kung This movie is a piece of mierda! 1 stars
11/14/04 anwar i loved that movie because it pictured love as a pure thing and not just a sexual desire 5 stars
7/13/04 Connie Maggerise I am from Alabama near Coon Dog Cemetery, it is really a lot like we are, double wides and 5 stars
7/08/04 Denise another predictable romance 3 stars
6/27/04 Daveman In trying to be inoffensive it winds up offending more than most films could. 2 stars
6/05/04 Jamal this movie sucks, so boring, so stupid, so lame. 1 stars
3/12/04 cereal lover a total piece of shit and waist of talent 1 stars
1/14/04 Chupa Chups the best bits were showcased in the trailer so the actual movie seemed boring 3 stars
12/23/03 Chris I loved this movie. A chick flick that everyone can like. 4 stars
10/25/03 Mel Josh is edible 5 stars
9/29/03 Honolulu Tur I like Reese & Josh but boy oh boy was this a steaming pile of garbage or what 1 stars
9/01/03 Rhonda Blankenship Sweet Home, Alabama is between Jenifer & Anniston. 3 stars
8/31/03 Arch-vile So bad I couldn't believe my eyes. 1 stars
8/18/03 Julie Loved it!! Haved watched it over and over 5 stars
7/29/03 sherry donald every actor on that movie and the director was great except for the damn dog 5 stars
7/28/03 francis innocuous time-passer 3 stars
7/23/03 Whitney McBurney I bought this on video and that is saying alot because I buy VERY few movies 5 stars
7/22/03 carol king LOVE IT!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/20/03 Becca Marie Jamieson Best movie done in a long time 5 stars
6/18/03 Jenna Kase It was a great movie because they didn't make the guy she dumped look like "the bad guy" 5 stars
6/16/03 Arlene Titshaw Seeing Murphy Brown get slugged to the ground was worth it! 3 stars
6/16/03 Rhonda Blankenship Sweet Home, Alabama is between Jenifer & Anniston. 3 stars
6/13/03 Monster W. Kung Head-explodingly bad 1 stars
5/23/03 Misty Its the best movie made in a while 5 stars
5/05/03 Phil M. Aficionado Basic pointless rom com replete with stereotypes standard plot twists 2 stars
4/15/03 Jin Awful. 10 year olds kissing? Yeah right. 1 stars
4/08/03 pj "Whee, she punched her! Shes one of us again!" eeep! Please, Reese, come back! 3 stars
4/06/03 Ralph A good light commedy 4 stars
4/02/03 natasha_theobald not really funny, slightly more romantic 2 stars
3/13/03 Jason Martin "Sweet Home Alabama" is a good movie about finding yourself where you came from. 5 stars
3/12/03 Brandy I loved it! I guess "y'all" just have to be from AL to understand its like that EVERYWHERE! 5 stars
3/11/03 Arlene Titshaw Seeing Murphy Brown get slugged to the ground was worth it! 3 stars
3/05/03 Robert Cooley Thought it was great 5 stars
3/05/03 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Reese Witherspoon makes unexpectedly impressive rebound from that LEGALLY BOMBED caca! 4 stars
3/01/03 karen PIECE OF POO. not funny at ALL. STUPID STUPID STUPID. 1 stars
2/26/03 Jake LOVED IT!!!!! 5 stars
2/25/03 Jacob I wish I didn't see this movie. 1 stars
2/20/03 Would You Like To Know I got it yesturday and I've already watched it 12 parents are about to kill me!! 5 stars
2/19/03 Sarah Doolittle It was the Best movie! I loved it!! :) 5 stars
2/18/03 John L Nowhere near as good as Doc Hollywood 2 stars
2/12/03 Jackie I LOVED this movie! I don't care what anyone says, I thought it was adorable! 5 stars
2/12/03 Kristen this was truly a sweet movie 5 stars
2/10/03 DJ very sickening story, attempts to glorify ignorance as some kind of virtue . FLUSH THE crap 1 stars
2/09/03 tikki love josh, wife was a bitch, fiance was too good for her 4 stars
2/08/03 Dao Tran This movie was very sweet and good! 5 stars
2/01/03 Brandice Olivotto I loved This movie how can you say that wait you must be a guy who hates chick flicks 5 stars
1/30/03 ali awesome 5 stars
1/23/03 Lisa Blundell Very sweet and shy-funny movie. 4 stars
1/20/03 james watch this one with someone special 3 stars
1/18/03 Bobby If you like humor, originality, or good acting, you're looking at the wrong movie 1 stars
1/16/03 Joanna Callan Really good girly movie but you may need tissue Overall really enjoyable.s 5 stars
1/08/03 tina waste of time/money 1 stars
1/03/03 Jackson Matson Erik, you are a anal licking moron for missing the vitality and integrity in this film. 4 stars
12/27/02 hab99 was not as terrible as I first thought. A pleasant no-brainer 3 stars
12/25/02 shelley it was a fun movie not to be taken too seriously 4 stars
11/29/02 Gaiia i wouldn't see it 1 stars
11/10/02 john i havent seen it 1 stars
11/08/02 Leonard Good,Worth to watch 4 stars
10/28/02 Gitaar I would call it a chick-flick, but my date even hated it, completly predictable 1 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 It wasn't worth the $8 to see it in the theatre but it wasn't terrible. 2 stars
10/26/02 Nick it bites and shouldnt been shown, you could predict the rest of the movie 1 stars
10/14/02 Angry Black Man I like Patrick Dempsey, but I hated this movie. It was stupid!!! 1 stars
10/09/02 Uncle Salty Yet another mindless romantic comedy from the makers of EVERY OTHER ROMANTIC COMEDY! 1 stars
10/09/02 James why does the rest of my country hate me? 1 stars
10/06/02 jessica A GREAT FILM 5 stars
10/02/02 Alex "BIG TURD ALABAMA" 1 stars
10/01/02 Film Dude Fucking terrible 1 stars
9/30/02 brien could have been worse... but not MucH worse 2 stars
9/30/02 p-dog blows goats 1 stars
9/30/02 buttface mcbuttface horrible horrible horrible god-awful crappy idiotic total shitfest 1 stars
9/29/02 Flick Chick it was good - no, not academy award material, but entertaining. 4 stars
9/28/02 Dale Jones VERY GOOD, fun movie. Great cast, good story. Won't win any awards, but tastefully done. 5 stars
9/28/02 Danielle Ophelia Hollywood films enough movies in NC...they know their Southern stereotypes are bullshit! 1 stars
9/27/02 Ramblin Wreck Proving once again that only Southerners are the people you can legally make fun of 1 stars
9/23/02 Charles A great actress in a stupid, unoriginal, uninspired movie. 1 stars
9/21/02 Kisuta Better than I expected. Well written. Good plot twists. 4 stars
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  27-Sep-2002 (PG-13)



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