It was on Hulu so I decided to do a rewatch of it. Why not? I didn’t hate it the first time. Also, I enjoyed looking at Josh Lucas. No downside. I remember watching it with a few friends back in the day. Since it premiered in 2002, it has been 20 years since it hit theaters… You gotta love that a movie with this title was mostly shot in Georgia. But I mean… nothing is ever as it seems. Sweet Home Alabama was described to me as A young woman who’s reinvented herself as a New York socialite and must return home to Alabama to obtain a divorce from her husband, after seven years of separation. Through an adult lens… let’s see if it holds up… Check out the old trailer… Let us all laugh at the voiceovers that they no longer do.
The movie stars Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Jean Smart, and Candice Bergen. I figured I would jump right back in… I don’t think about this as a rom-com even though I enjoy this much more than I should. When I think about romcoms… this never comes up on my list because… It is really all over the place. It feels more like a returning home story more than a romcom for me anyway. So let’s get into it.
- Okay so the movie opens up with two kids playing in the thunderstorm… Isn’t that kind of dangerous? I mean my great grandmother was from Mississippi and she didn’t even want to talk on the phone during a storm. It is a young Dakota Fanning. 10-year-olds Jake and Melanie inspect the result of lightning striking sand. (More on this later.) Jake asserts that they will be married one day. Ah young love… He just knew that she was going to be his wife. Nothing really to say here… But Melanie is dreaming. She wakes up later and is in the middle of working on an upcoming fashion show.
- Melanie Charmichael has apparently made a huge name for herself after she landed in NYC 7 years ago. Everyone is reassuring her that she has got this. Even Andrew her very wealthy man. He is the son of the Mayor. I am not sure that I would date a politician or even someone that closely related to a politician. I say that because in the movie…. Andrew is expected to show up to events to be in his mother’s corner. The whole city is watching and sometimes more. Prior to meeting at the event though… Andrew gets Melanie chauffeured to a Tiffany’s where he proposes in the store that is only open for her. Weird. I know they are trying to make this romantic… but… for someone who is wealthy I felt he could do better… and I mean this is just before an event with your mother. It just seems like poor planning to me. And of course it all comes out at the event that she is engaged. She is now royalty of New York. Check it out here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gt9hUr1Qzkc)
- Her friend calls her wondering why she had to read the paper to hear about the engagement. Melanie tells her it just kind of happens… Well… It did. Mel also declines to come out for drinks since she is hundreds of miles away in Alabama. She’s there… because… She needs a divorce from Jake Perry. (I do have a thing for grease monkeys.) She can’t marry Andrew without it. It is funny because at first Jake doesn’t even recognize her. But when he does realize who it is… He doesn’t seem all that happy or impressed with her. I mean she really is being condescending but I would figure it would be easier to sign the divorce papers. He first tells her to go home and talk to her parents. He tries to lock her out. I can’t say that I blame him… It has been 7 years… but again… you could just sign the divorce papers. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KONvrzT7VC8) But problem is… she is his wife… so she knows where the key to the house is. And sad for him… everything is just has she left it… Poor him… (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih_u71wMgBQ) My favorite line… “Oh, I’ve missed you but at this distance… my aim is bound to get better.” The standout moment is when they are both talking to the dog… except she calls the dog by the wrong name. “What happened to Bear?” “He died. You weren’t here.”
- Meanwhile in NYC, Andrew’s mom is on the warpath… or so they are making it seem. Meanwhile, Kate Hennings doubts Melanie’s suitability to wed her son, whom she is grooming to run for President of the United States. Why is she the bad guy for thinking (correctly.) that Melanie is hiding something? She had her assistant try to dig up things on Mel’s family. Except they can’t find a listing for Melanie Charmichael can’t even figure out where she went to school which only makes his mom more suspicious. Back in Alabama… Jake calls the Sheriff on Mel. But that doesn’t work out the way Jake intends… at first. Wade, an old friend, is Sheriff now and when he learns that Jake and Mel are still married… he tells Jake there is nothing he can do. She has a right to be there. Until Jake starts rattling off every past crime they did together. SMH. Not cool man. SNITCHES GET STITCHES. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37sIMsHArpU&t=3s)
- She ends up having to call her parents to bail her out. She has to reveal that she is in town. Her dad had to pick her up from the Jailhouse. Welcome back Mel. You start to see why she has a hard relationship with her parents like anyone does. Her father talks about paying for her and Jake’s wedding which apparently she doesn’t have fond memories of. Her dad is still harping on the fact that she needs to give Jake a break for being drunk at their wedding and throwing up on her. And that he is a changed man. Sir!!!! She had to go to the reception alone because he had to sleep off the drunk and she had vomit on her dress. She tells her dad that she would appreciate not being made to be the bad guy because she was annoyed about it and for him to ask about her life too. She tells her dad that she has met someone and is happy.
- I am just going to say she was being rude to her parents. Condescending remarks about how nothing has changed. It is revealed that she wanted them to come visit her in NY but they have refused to come even though she bought them tickets. She has managed to get into an argument with everyone she has come into contact with at this point. Jake, Dad and now her mom. It does seem like she would love her parents to at least pretend to be happy about how things in her life have come together. To say they are not seeing eye to eye is an understatement. It is like her parents don’t want to say that she is one of them now… How dare she leave for NY…? Andrew is not fairing any better. His mother insists on learning everything about Mel and wants them to have a wedding on the date she wants where she wants it. It is a bit much to book a date and insist on a location when the wedding is not about you. But wanting to know more is not a crime. She may alienate her son before they get down to the bottom of things.
- Mel heads into town and is on the phone with her lawyer talking about how a contested divorce takes up to 18 months. My issue is… hasn’t she been gone 7 years? If she has really been sending the paperwork for a divorce for years… then… you should have done a contested divorce a while ago… or maybe not said yes to another man when you knew you were already married. Or both. I am sorry. It seems like this could have been done way better. But then it would not be a romcom. Enter Bobby Ray… yelling at her from his car. She catches up with with Bobby Ray and learns that he is gay. But he reveals that he has read about her on the internet and knows why she is in town. “I know all about the cocks in your henhouse.” He heads back to the plant where he works and Mel heads into the bank.
- Inside the bank, Mel gets reacquainted with Dorothea who has apparently lost 110 pounds. The security guard… doesn’t seem to be all that impressed with Melanie. He hurries to take his lunchbreak. Dorothea lets it slip that she knows all about Mel’s fight with Jake. Since she and Wade are married and you know (pillow talk). When Mel tells her she needs to make a withdrawal… Dorothea asks… if she wants to make it from her…. *clears throat* joint account. She still has a joint account with Jake. Now that is some sisterhood for you. Since she is still married… she is entitled to withdraw the money from their account. Again… Jake dude… it would have been easier to just sign the divorce papers. Because I would be so annoyed if I had a lump sum in my account and someone I ain’t even talked to in years flew into town and was allowed to withdraw it.
- Jake returns home in his plane… (Why does he have a plane? Like where do you go that you need to fly in…? I have questions.) He is greeted by Mel who is posing as the little homemaker. And she has changed almost everything in his house….. Their house?? I just… She has even conned poor Bryant. Jake initially is annoyed but not enough… thinking that she has spent her own money…. When she responds that she prefers to think that it is their money… He almost loses his mind. She tells him she will give him the money back if he just signs the papers… But concedes to do so… He mentions that he knows that she is pushing for a divorce because she is trying to get remarried. Oddly, she seems shocked by this… Why? Everyone has been telling her that they have been reading about her. And I get my favorite line in the whole movie… “Honey. Just cause I talk slow don’t mean I’m stupid.” There seems to be a bit of a loving moment before Jake up and leaves without signing the paperwork… He wants to have is lawyer look at it before he signs… (Fair. Again… this could have been taken care of years ago.) Why does he feel the to walk around shirtless? I mean yeah it is his house… but he knows what he is doing… LOL. Mel is annoyed that he plan doesn’t work… Jake doesn’t seem all that upset about the missing money. I mean he did leave her name on the account.
- Next scene… Can we just laugh at her ringtone? Shoutout to Nokia… Everyone had a time in the early 2000’s. Mel decides to head out after Jake and following him out on a date. Weird… mostly… because nothing good could come from this… She walks in and is immediately greeted by her mother in law whom she tells she is trying to divorce her son. Jake’s mom seems hella cool… but it is just the start of an outing that screams this is a bad idea. She meets another friend… who has her baby with her…. at a bar. (I don’t know anyone that would do this… like they tried to pass it off as normal for where they are at… but… no. Because no one is asking why the child is there.) Friend talks about how she has 3 other children at home… but because she is still breastfeeding she lugs the baby around with her. (But again… it is a bar. I am sure babysitting could have been arranged. Like get some me time sis… Pump and go and live your best life…. ) She compliments Mel on her clothes to which Mel responds that she made it. Friend claims she would never get away with spending that kind of money on clothes. (I get it.)
- Mel “bumps” into Jake on his date. (Still think it is a terrible idea.) She introduces herself as Jake’s wife. It is not a lie but not entirely true… but she is annoyed that Jake left without signing the divorce papers. I would not be telling a stranger all my business in a bar. But she can’t wait to annoy him and show off her new ring. Sis go home. She doesn’t but I knew that. Jake sends his date… (Star.) to get them more drinks. Star seems a bit in the clouds. LOL. Jake plans to ignore Mel and Mel plans on being as obnoxious as she can be with the power of alcohol. She yells something about Jake liking to be embarrassed in front of his friends. Bobby Ray who is there points out that they were her friends too. But she ignores him. Although… when the two others joing and crush her in a Melanie sandwich… Everyone looks at her as if she is being difficult by hating it. Although… Bobby Ray does crack a joke at her expense…. like friends do. But it drives her to drink more and be rude to everyone.
- Jake and Mel have it out for everyone to see… Not a thing that I would do in this situation. He is asked if he is actually going to divorce her… (His date is still there… I would not continue to be there with a married man. But I guess she figures that Mel no longer wants him so…. ) He claimes that she waited 7 years… she can wait another few days. (What is the point in dragging it out? I know the answer but it still seems odd.) He really doesn’t seem to perturbed by Mel even though she is getting on my last nerve at least until she blurts out that Jake got her pregnant the night of the state championship. (Again… not a thing I would blurt out to a bar full of people.) Then she turns and outs Bobby Ray. She made me want to punch her. Drunk or not… (Bobby Ray is drunk too but she really takes it too far.) All her friends are less than stoked by her joke… Jake ends his date and drags her out of the bar. Even when he drags her out of the bar… she tells Jake, he bought this on herself and that she is better than them. (See? Punch! There is something about how he throws her in the truck that makes me laugh. She wanted to drive home but she is way to loose for that.) He takes her to her parents house… Star follows in her car…. and Melanie throw up in his truck. He leaves the divorce paperwork on her pillow signed. (The way she was snoring too.)
- She is like a half dead the next day. I do not miss that. AT ALL. Her father is off to a Civil War reenactment. Mel gets herself together to visit Jake… AGAIN… unannounced… again. She comes to tell him that she has returned his money. Since that was the deal. He did sign the papers. He does appreciate that… since he has written several checks. (What makes me laugh… is he takes a bone and throws it into the lake… and the dog jumps in after it and isn’t seen for a while. “Can he swim?” “It doesn’t look like it.” LOL. He eventually resurfaces which calms Melanie down. Jake doesn’t seem at all bothered. It is his dog.) Jake reveals that he is going to leave the house the way it is now that she has changed it. It should make it easier to sell. Mel is shocked that he is moving… Why? You moved. He offers to take her on a ride and everything. He has something to show her but she declines. (He is real mysterious about it though.) She is on her apology tour. So she starts with Jake but she has a lot of rounds to make. (Let’s not even bring up all the people in NYC that she has lied to. ) She heads to the post office to mail off her divorce paperwork and she inquires about Bobby Ray. She is told that he goes over to the Charmichael residence on the weekend. She heads over to apologize… and it is a weird exchange where not much is said. (I refuse to talk about the anvils.) But there is an understanding in the end. So much so that Bobby Ray helps her lie Kate’s Assistant… he is sent there to gather information on Melanie’s background. Bobby Ray backs up her pretense that she is a relative and the family mansion is her childhood home. They give him a tour of the home… but my question is… who just asks to take a quick look at someone’s home.
- During an outdoor festival, she manages to apologize to her friends especially Lurlynn… I do think they forgave her too easy but we still have about 45 minutes left in the movie we had to move along. Lurlynn is with her kids… getting them fed and taking them around the carnival. I know from hanging with my nephews and nieces that food times can always be hectic especially if you are out about. Mel sticks around with her and her kids and finds out that after she split with Jake, he had followed her to New York to win her back. Intimidated by the city and her success, he returned home to make something of himself first. It becomes increasingly obvious that there was a reason he kept refusing to sign the papers… Jake shows up with Bobby Ray and no one cares that he is gay. There is some talk about the glasses used at the carnival… everyone tries to get Jake to talk about it… But he is so hush mouth about it. Then it is time to dance… Jake dances with Lurlynn as she claims Clinton can’t dance. Mel start out dancing with Clinton but she ends up getting left with Jake as Mel claims that Clinton is not half bad causing Lurlynn to take him back. Mel and Jake don’t dance together. He wants to…. She wants to but doesn’t.
- Since she doesn’t dance with Jake… she ends up at the hound cemetery talking to Bear. (Bear is the dog she and Jake had that passed when she left.) She has a heart to heart with Bear… and Jake listens in… Then they have a heart to heart about their relationship that once was. She admits that she is happy in NYC but she remembers why she loved being in Alabama with them. Jake says… It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can do more than on thing.)They then branch into a conversation… about the baby that they lost. Jake asks “Do you wonder what would have happened if we hadn’t gotten pregnant?” I think that he had a life pictured in his mind that Melanie always fit into… but what younger people don’t realize is that life happens and people grow and change. Their wants change. Maybe he didn’t realize that while she may have wanted kids… she may have wanted to see what life was like first and try her hand at something? Mel admits that she was sad at the miscarriage but also relieved which Jake seems to understand. But it’s also what made her up and leave. Jake tells her he is proud of her… and apologizes for not accompanying her to the reception at their wedding… (Take that Dad!!) There is a lot of kissing that occurs. But she is with someone else… and Jake puts a stop to the kiss and tells her to go home.
- The next day… as she is trying to leave… her and her mother are having it out about Jake. Her mother doesn’t want her to change her mind… She wants Mel go back to NY and not look back. She describes Jake as quicksand. Mel does point out that Jake has done nothing wrong and that she is leaving… (literally in the process) and that she is about to marry someone else. Her mother reveals that she doesn’t Mel to turn out like her… She also tells Mel to say goodbye to her father… who is again on the battlefield doing a reenactment. Mel is left trying to sift through all the “dead bodies” to find her father. In the meantime… Andrew shows up in town… to surprise Mel and runs into Jake… Andrew is at the Charmichael’s because he thinks that is where Mel lives… And Jake is confused as to why he is there if he is looking for Melanie. (He initially thinks Andrew is there to see Bobby Ray lol.) Poor Bobby Ray answers the door. He’s torn between having to lie… like he did for Mel before… because Jake is standing there… but Jake falls in line with the lie and offers to take Andrew to Mel which Bobby Ray wants to protest. Check it out: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbwcQTJcmWA&t=28s) In Jake’s truck, Andrew asks about Melanie Smooter… not realizing they are talking about the same person. Leave it to Jake to weave a tale. When asked what happened to her… Jake responds with… “Well… you know… She wound up pregnant and married some loser right out of high school.”
- Mel is unprepared for when both her husband and husband to be show up. She looks like a deer in headlights. When she asks “What are you doing here?” Andrew assumes she is talking to him but it is Jake that answers. He just steps right over any pretenses… like Andrew isn’t even there. I would feel bad for her… BUT YOU LIED TO EVERYONE SIS!!! Jake calls her out in front of her man… and he is standing there clueless. When he learns her true background and that Jake was her husband, he angrily leaves. I mean who wouldn’t everything about your relationship is a lie. She ends up back at home with her mom. Andrew does return…. I can’t imagine why… saying he still wants to marry Melanie, and the wedding is immediately set in motion. They decide that the wedding should happen in Alabama and not in NYC. Because her parents… still don’t want to head up north… Melanie’s New York friends arrive for the event. Andrew’s mom… who they are still trying to make seem like the bad guy… because she knew Melanie was a liar. Andrew points out that she was just embarrassed of her past… and wanted to start over and he can get why a person would be embarrassed of their parents. Andrew’s mom takes over the wedding planning and Mel spends her time trying to call Jake who does not answer. Until he finally unplugs the phone completely.
- Mel takes her friends out to a new place called Deep South Glass. Mel spots Jakes plane outside. Her friends are confused as to what it means. But it finally dawns on Mel what Jake wanted to show her. He owns the place and is the artist. She explains to her friends that sand is used to make glasses… and they are surprised. Here is where all the questions about the glasses are answered from earlier in the film. Enter Jake. Now I am not sure what she thinks is supposed to happen here. Like you pushed him to divorce you… He did… and you are getting married…. everyone in town knows it. Poor Jake… She just won’t go home. He dodges her statement of calling him repeatedly and gabs about the place. He just moves along… Meanwhile… someone is looking around town for Melanie. But no one wants to tell him where she is. And Andrew’s mother is in town to meet Mel’s parents… What is with her dad and this chair???
- Jake has words with his mom… who pulls up as he is trying to make his escape. I guess she wants him to do something. But she came here to ask for a divorce. What do you want from the man…? He says she made her decision… and he is not interesting in heading to the wedding to watch her marry someone else. I remember saying that about a person I used to know back in the day. He is heading out into the storm. Meanwhile the wedding starts… Her mother basically tells her to forget about Jake because Andrew can “get you a life that we never dreamed of.” Isn’t Mel doing great on her own? But the nuptials are interrupted when a man comes running in to the ceremony screaming for Mel. He is revealed to be the lawyer… and points out that she sent in the paperwork with Jake’s signature and not her own. So.. she can’t get married… because… AGAIN…. She is still married. (EYEROLL!) Jake’s mom looks pleased with herself… and the storm is rolling in… Let’s get these papers signed girl… But seriously… what do you really think happened LOL. Andrew is left at the alter because she doesn’t sign the papers. She apologizes but his mother is not trying to hear that. They spent a lot of money on this wedding. Her father seems stoked. Her mother.. not so much… she wasn’t a fan of Jake. Leave it to Andrew’s mother to start mouthing off… But again….I don’t think she is wrong. She lied about who she was… and now she wants to stay married. She gets punched because she was rude to Mel’s mother… But she isn’t the villian here.
- She sets off to find her old new husband… in the rain…. Let me tell you all how I hate thunderstorms. Melanie finds Jake at the beach planting lightning rods in the sand during a rainstorm to create more glass sculptures. He asks her where her husband is…. and she says they are still married. And he rightly so looks confused. She moves on past that… and asks what I have been wanting to know all movie… “Why didn’t you tell me you came to New York?” He tells her he wanted to make something of himself. But why should it be that easy… The ball is back in her court when he points out that she doesn’t really know what she wants… (Whether he actually believes that is up for debate…We’ve known all movie that he didn’t want to be divorced… but I will say… it is a blow to not be chosen until the last second. Although… one could argue… that is Andrew left with the short stick.) Maybe they had their chance… (does anyone in these movies get told no… when they make a grand gesture.) Calling him a stubborn ass seems to do the trick though… So I mean it if works… go for it. Everyone in the movies in the early 2000’s has a rain scene kiss…. So this is no different. Wade has to come escort them to their reception… That would have been Andrew’s reception… they finally have their first dance as husband and wife. Check out the scene here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j-fERuyfXg) A mid-credits sequence shows that they have a baby daughter, Melanie continues to thrive as a designer, and Jake opens a “Deep South Glass” franchise in New York. Andrew is engaged to a girl named Erin Vanderbilt. Her Parents also come to visit NY. Take a look at the cut scene here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IGTESK1PqM&t=4s)
So there are things that I still enjoy about it… It is still a great rainy day movie. I still enjoy Josh Lucas. But I mean… like with any romcom… this seems like the long way around… but no one watches movies… (Romcoms especially…) for realism.