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"SWEET HOME ALABAMA"
(2002) (Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Minor Moderate None Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None None Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate None Mild Mild Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Romantic Comedy: A recently engaged NYC fashion designer races to her Alabama hometown to finalize her divorce from her long-estranged husband before anyone finds out about her secret past life.
PLOT:
Melanie Carmichael (REESE WITHERSPOON) seems to have it all - a rising fashion design career in New York City and a well-known boyfriend, Andrew (PATRICK DEMPSEY), who's just asked her to marry him. There are just two hitches.

Andrew's mother, Kate (CANDICE BERGEN), just so happens to be the Mayor and isn't pleased with his choice, but she has no final say in his decision. That's nothing, however, compared with the fact that Melanie has to travel to her hometown of Pigeon Creek, Alabama to finalize her divorce from her long estranged husband, Jake (JOSH LUCAS).

It seems that he's been reluctant to sign the papers, and Melanie hasn't seen him or her parents -- Pearl (MARY KAY PLACE) and Earl (FRED WARD) - in seven years. She hopes to get in and out of town in a hurry and never let Andrew or any of her NYC friends in on her secret, but Jake's continued reluctance means she has to stay awhile.

As she sets out to convince him, she runs into other Pigeon Creek residents such as Stella Kay (JEAN SMART), Jake's mother; Bobby Ray (ETHAN EMBRY), her in the closet gay friend; and other former acquaintances such as Lurlynn (MELANIE LYNSKEY) and Wade (COURTNEY GAINS) the sheriff. With time running out before Kate's people uncover her secret, and Pigeon Creek's small town charm and friendliness starting to win her over, Melanie must decide what to do in her life and who she wants as her husband.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
The film will probably play well to Witherspoon's fan base as well as teenage girls who are into romantic comedies.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For some language/sexual references.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • REESE WITHERSPOON plays a NYC fashion designer who finds herself in quite the predicament when her boyfriend proposes to her while she's still married to her long-estranged husband. She then returns to her hometown to persuade him to sign the divorce papers and shows that she has a superiority complex toward her former hometown and its residents (although she eventually comes around). She uses some profanity, is drunk in one scene and is noted as having gotten pregnant years ago (the reason she married Jake).
  • JOSH LUCAS plays her long-estranged, hometown husband who won't divorce her due to trying to improve himself so that she'll change her mind. He uses some profanity and is noted as having gotten her pregnant before they were married.
  • PATRICK DEMPSEY plays Melanie's political fiancÚ who's unaware of her past or current predicament. He uses some profanity.
  • CANDICE BERGEN plays his mother, the domineering and demanding mayor who's not happy with his decision to marry Melanie. She uses some profanity.
  • MARY KAY PLACE plays Melanie's mother who's critical of her but doesn't want Melanie to end up like her and be trapped in the town.
  • FRED WARD plays Melanie's father who's into Civil War reenactments.
  • ETHAN EMBRY plays Melanie's hometown friend who's an in the closet gay man until she outs him while drunk.
  • COURTNEY GAINS plays the local sheriff who uses some profanity.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this PG-13 rated romantic comedy. Profanity consists of at least 8 "s" words and some slang terms, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also present. Some sexually related dialogue is uttered, a couple makes out, the protagonist admits to getting married in the past due to being pregnant, and several characters are noted as being gay.

    Various characters drink (some to the point of being drunk and then visibly sick), some have bad attitudes (played for laughs), and some family tension is also present for laughs. A punch is thrown, and some imitative behavior is present, including a story about explosives being attached to a terminally ill cat.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People have champagne after a fashion show.
  • Jake has a beer.
  • Melanie complains that Jake was still drunk from the night before when they were married.
  • We see Melanie holding a bottle of wine that she's just poured for Jake and herself. Jake then discovers light beer in the fridge. He then downs one in one long gulp.
  • Various people drink in a local bar where Melanie orders a martini (that Jake later downs). We then see many shots of liquor that have been consumed near a pool table. Both Bobby Ray and Melanie appear drunk. She then says things while drunk that she wouldn't while sober. She later gets sick, passes out and has a hangover the next day.
  • Various people drink at a festival.
  • Jake and his various friends sit up on the walkway of a water tower drinking beer.
  • We see some beers on Jake's table.
  • Earl says he bets Kate could use a drink and she says that he's right.
  • People have champagne at a reception.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see Melanie vomit in the front seat of Jake's car.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Melanie has lied to Andrew and others about her past and agrees to marry him despite not yet being divorced from her first husband.
  • Kate has a condescending attitude toward Melanie in various scenes.
  • Jake won't sign Melanie's divorce papers (despite them not seeing each other for 7 years) and she has a condescending attitude toward him and many others in town when she returns.
  • Pearl is critical of how Melanie looks (to her face and in overbearing, motherly fashion).
  • While drunk, Melanie comments that Bobby Ray will never get anything from her or any other girl in town. She then asks him directly, "Why don't you just go to a gay bar?" When Jake calls her on that and the rest of her attitude and behavior, she claims that she's better than the locals.
  • Some viewers might not like the following being played for laughs: We hear (but don't see the incident) where Jake explains that Melanie blew up a bank (by accident) at the age of 10 by strapping dynamite to a terminally ill cat (rather than having it put to sleep). He then says that the cat's tail supposedly caught fire from the fuse and that it fled, leaving the dynamite in the bank (we later see that the cat is okay).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Civil War Cannons and Rifles: Fired and carried during a reenactment.
  • Handgun: Worn by a security guard.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "You're sh*tting me," "No, I'm not sh*tting you," "Cut the sh*t," "Holy sh*t," "Go public with that sh*t," "No sh*t," "Bullsh*t," "She's pulling your d*ck" (what a man says about Mel's comment about what happens when lightning hits sand), "Bloody" (adjective), "Shut up," "Get your stubborn ass down here," "Chick" and "Babe" (woman), "Get your butt back in that car," "Redneck," "You turned into some hoity-toity Yankee bitch," "Piss you off," "My ass," "Bastard," "Hell's bells," "Hot damn," "Piece of ass," "What the hell /is this/was that?" "Chick food" (food for women), "Whatever blows your dress up," "Ran like hell," "Loser," "You little bitch" and "You stubborn ass."
  • Melanie wears a midriff-revealing top.
  • Jake's former groomsmen grab Melanie and do a Melanie sandwich (their bodies are against either side of her).
  • Some men somehow are setting off charges that blast what look like anvils up into the air.
  • We hear (but don't see the incident) where Jake explains that Melanie blew up a bank (by accident) at the age of 10 by strapping dynamite to a terminally ill cat (rather than having it put to sleep). He then says that the cat's tail supposedly caught fire from the fuse and that it fled, leaving the dynamite in the bank (we later see that the cat is okay).
  • We briefly see a guy with a pierced tongue during the end credits.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 8 "s" words, 2 slang terms using male genitals ("c*ck" and "d*ck"), 1 slang term for breast ("t*t"), 10 hells, 7 asses, 5 damns, 1 S.O.B., 13 uses of "Oh my God," 4 of "God," 3 of "Oh God," 2 of "Oh Lord" and 1 use each of "Christ Almighty," "For Christ's sakes," "For God's sakes," "Jesus," "Lord," "Oh good Lord" and "Oh my Lord" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A miscellaneous woman shows some cleavage.
  • Melanie and Andrew passionately kiss in the backseat of a limo where they want some privacy from the limo driver. She then kisses his neck, but the passion ends there.
  • Melanie states that she was the first person to climb into the back of Jake's truck (possible sexually related).
  • Kate complains to Andrew that he's just like his father and gets sidetracked by "some young piece of ass."
  • Bobby Ray states that his former flame is now a woman's softball coach (with both him and Melanie reacting as if that means she's a lesbian and Melanie saying that explains some game of Post Office - or something like that -- she played with that woman in the past).
  • Bobby Ray drops a double entendre when commenting on the "cocks in your henhouse" to Melanie.
  • A comment is made that a guy never could get his "balls in the right pocket" (billiards double entendre).
  • Melanie comments about the night in the past that "Jake got me pregnant." She then comments that Bobby Ray will never get anything from her or any other girl in town. She then asks him directly, "Why don't you just go to a gay bar?" Another guy wonders what Bobby Ray would do at a gay bar, thinks about it for a second, and then makes a face.
  • Melanie and Jack passionately make out in a dog cemetery, but he then stops them.
  • When Jake first meets Andrew on Bobby Ray's doorstep (not knowing who he is, but knowing that Bobby Ray is gay), he suggestively asks if he's there to see Bobby Ray. When Bobby Ray answers the door, he wonders what's going on and smiles in an interested fashion at Andrew.
  • Melanie shows a little cleavage.
  • Melanie's gay mentor spots Jake and says he saw him first (as in he's interested in him). Later he and Bobby Ray smile at each other.
  • After some handcuffs are removed from Melanie's wrists, a guy comments that she might want to keep them for the honeymoon.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Most of the following is played for comedy rather than drama or tension.
  • Melanie wants a divorce from Jake, her long-estranged husband, but he won't sign the papers.
  • Melanie also has an estranged relationship with her parents, having not seen them for 7 years. When they finally reunite, Pearl is critical of how Melanie looks (in an overbearing, motherly sort of way).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Dealing with and/or accepting one's past.
  • Being on the beach during a lightning storm (Melanie has a dream about that from her childhood, while we later see her and Jake there during another one). In addition, young Jake claims that lightning won't strike the same place twice.
  • Miscarriage (we learn that one character had one).
  • Life and living in a small town vs. the big city.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Melanie has a dream where young versions of herself and Jake are hit by lighting at the beach (seen from a distance) and fall to the ground (she then wakes up).
  • Some men somehow are setting off charges that blast what look like anvils up into the air (with one crashing down through the top of some small building structure).
  • Bodyguards grab and tackle an older man trying to give news to Melanie.
  • Melanie punches Kate in the face and knocks her to the ground after the Mayor acts disrespectfully toward Pearl.



  • Reviewed September 17, 2002 / Posted September 27, 2002

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