My Best Friend's Wedding is one of those all-important romantic comedies. Starring the woman with the greatest smile in Hollywood, Julia Roberts, and Dermot Mulroney, who was doing the smolder well before Flynn Ryder came into the picture, it centers on the age-old story of not seeing what you have right in front of you until someone else does. Looking back on it, however, there are some really weird things going on in regard to certain mindsets about women and marriage that are, well, seriously outdated and stereotypical. Such as...
The Pact Between Julianne And Michael
- 1997 stereotype: "I HAVE to be married by a certain age."
- 2016 reality: Live your life, girl!
I think a lot of friends go through that stage of, "Hey, if we don't get married by the time we are 35 we will marry each other." It is a sweet idea, and usually something viewed as an inside joke that's brought up on occasion. However, re-watching the movie I was surprised to realize that they said that if they weren't married by the time they were 28 they would marry each other — twenty-eight! Heck, I will be 28 in a few months and am only dating someone. I know that there are people my age getting married and others settling down at an even younger age, and that's great, but it seems crazy to me that the pact between the two would have been set for such a young age. There is still a lot of life ahead of them at that time.
I mean, heck, they both have very established careers, which would make trying to settle down difficult. Julia's "Julianne" character is set on her career path, and doesn't seem to want to slow down any time soon. No woman should have to give that up simply to be married, not if a career is what she truly wants and she loves her job.
The Desperation Showed By Julianne
- 1997 stereotype: "I'll stab another woman in the back to get the man."
- 2016 reality: Chicks before d*cks
In fact, at times the movie can get really confusing about who we are supposed to be rooting for. At one point Julianne literally tries to chase down Michael in an attempt to keep him. By all accounts, it seems as though she has gone off the deep end. I get not wanting to lose your best friend, especially to someone you hardly know, but there is a time and a place. Does Julianne really in her heart and mind think that it's the smartest idea to do this? She has plenty of time to confess how she feels, but she holds off. Her words don't match her actions and make it seem as if it's more about "winning" than about actually being with Michael. Does she love him? Of course she does; he is her best friend. But is she in love with him? No.
Are we supposed to want them together? The movie seems to be telling us that, but honestly, Julianne is sometimes not all that likable or sympathetic a character. And she plays right into the whole "catty, backstabbing female" stereotype. Are we supposed to root for her? Hate her? The message isn't all that clear. The writer and director seem to think that her craziness makes her a relatable character to all women, which is just not true.
The Whole Kimmy Giving Up Her Dreams Thing
- 1997 stereotype: "I'll give up my dreams if it helps me get a guy."
- 2016 reality: Get you a woman who can do both (because women can)
Kimmy is 20 years old and an all-around Southern belle type. Sweet and friendly, but make no mistake — if you cross her she will turn around and rip your head off. She is an intelligent woman, going to college at the University of Chicago, but is willing to throw it all away after she gets married to Michael in favor of supporting his dream. She does want to finish school, but is willing to give it up if it means that she won't lose him. The whole thing is kind of crazy. She is likable, played impeccably by Cameron Diaz, and you do feel for her, but the older, wiser version of me in 2016 wants to shake her and say, "You can do both! Do not plan your entire life around a man!" I have been in that situation myself (though not married) and let's just say that it did not end well.
We know there is more to a woman's life than catching the perfect man — sometimes the story ends not in marriage, but in dancing with your best friend. Now women know they don't necessarily "need no man" and that they can take care of themselves and do what they need to in life. Anyway, the guy who does end up being "Mr. Right," (if that's what you want) will support you in your dreams, too — because that's what a relationship is; it's a partnership.
It's Still Worth Watching For The Great Cast Chemistry Alone
This movie was right for the time it was released. It is also a lot of fun to look at, with definitely a lot of laughs along the way. Take it at face value, and have fun with it, as it was meant to be lighthearted and a good time. Just try to get through this scene without singing along.
Luckily, you can give it a watch on Hulu right now, or, if you happen to be in Raleigh, North Carolina this weekend, catch it along with an episode of Dawson's Creek as part of the Hulu Summer Road Trip series.