The scene that sums up the tone and intent of this movie for me involves a lot of helium-filled balloons, a luminous Julia Roberts, and three teenagers singing John Denver's "A Song for Annie" in that kind of funny voice that happens when one inhales helium. It is equal parts silly and wholesome, and uses that tone to glide us along a pivotal plot point in the movie.
There are two friendships and two love stories at the heart of this movie, all fused together into a heady potpourri the way only life ends up doing. Julia Roberts plays Julianne, a lonely and scattered New Yorker who gets a surprise call from her best friend (and past lover), Michael (Dermot Mulroney, charming yet a tad bit unconvincing). Michael's getting married that weekend and wants Julianne to be her best "man" while also playing bridesmaid to his bride Kimmy (Cameron Diaz playing a naive, yet kindred woman effectively). This comes as an emotional gut punch to Julianne, who realizes that she has been in love with Michael, ever since they broke up several years ago and remained best friends. In farcical urgency, she decides she needs to go to the wedding, only to confess her love to Michael, breaking his wedding up in hopes of her happily ever after. Her only confidante and guide in this misadventure, for all things right and wrong, is pal George (an affable Rupert Everett).
This absurd setting, mixed in with the possibility of true romance, is balanced by the movie quite well - presenting a narrative that never takes itself too seriously yet never pauses to explore the simple beauties that adorn life. Ronald Bass' writing doesn't pander too much and director P.J. Hogan trusts the audience enough to drop us into the rich milieu of every scene. There is so much to bite into in terms of atmosphere. To keep the viewer from being distracted, the camera does a commendable job of focusing on the one person that matters - more often than not, the radiant Julia Roberts. Roberts is spot on as the tentative Julianne, stuck in crossroads where desired actions could have damaging consequences.
I'm usually not in a rush to watch movies as soon as they come out or hit my radar. I tend to "save" movies only to savor them at the right moment, which is why you see a terrible sense of chronology when it comes to posts on this site. On those lines, "My Best Friend's Wedding" fit perfectly into uplifting the mood of a gloomy December night in Ohio - reminding me of sunny summers, love, and beautiful friendships.
Now Streaming on HBO Max.
Atlantic City says so much about two people in a relationship, without saying too much.
A comedy that is fun, while being just good cinema in the first place.