They kiss under a sky before being struck by lightening – and love. It’s about dreams coming true. It’s about fate. It’s about marriage. It’s about the good guy getting the girl.

Jason Pesick
<p>Best Date Movie, especially if your date is your sister.</p>
<p>Courtesy of Buena Vista</p>

So it’s no wonder why Sweet Home Alabama is the Best Date Movie of the year.

“Why would you want to marry me?” a young Melanie asks Jake under a torrent of Alabama rain.

“So I can kiss you anytime I want,” he replies. Kiss. Cue lightening.

Sort of makes a girl’s heart skip a beat.

Skip to the present where Melanie (Reese Witherspoon, “Cruel Intentions”) is living the perfect life in New York. She’s a successful up-and-coming fashion designer who has recently become engaged to the perfect bachelor of NYC, Andrew Hennings, a politician from a prominent, wealthy family.

But Melanie has a few minor details to sort out before the wedding – divorcing her husband Jake (Josh Lucas, “American Psycho”), her high school sweetheart, who she hasn’t seen since their quickie marriage. Although she may be finished with the past, past isn’t finished with her. She must confront her parents, the people in her hometown, and her unresolved feelings for Jake.

It’s any girl’s ideal situation. She must choose between two men who love her, and, unlike the predicament of most women in romantic comedies, Melanie holds the attention two good, honest men. Melanie’s men don’t cheat, judge her for her decisions or run away from commitment. There’s the rough-around-the-edges bad boy and sweetheart Jake Perry (with standard southern accent and striking blue eyes). And then there’s the JFK Jr. type. A true romantic, classically tasteful and equipped with smoldering dark looks, Andrew (Patrick Dempsey) dotes on Melanie with flowers and expensive jewelry and always says the right things. When she returns to her apartment to find the floor and bed covered with rose petals he says, “There’s a rose for every moment I thought of you last night.”

Sure, the script and plot may appear a bit cheesy or contrived, but it works because it’s not over the top or heavy-handed in its delivery.

While the film celebrates a girl’s fantasy of falling in love and getting married, it celebrates women’s’ independence. Melanie has a successful career and chooses who she wants to be with, rather than waiting for her perfect guy to save her. The other major female characters are equally independent in their professions as Andrew’s mother serves as a mayor and Jake’s mother manages a bar – and neither is involved in a relationship.

But the film is hardly feminist propaganda. Following in the footsteps of romance films, there’s the storybook wedding and the happy ending with a twist. Fate is realized and like every Cinderella, Melanie finds her Prince Charming. Again.

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