Director: Garry Marshall
Cast: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Joan Cusack, Christopher Meloni, Hector Elizondo, Rita Wilson, Paul Dooley, Donal Logue
Released: July 30, 1999
More like Runaway Viewer, am I right?
This 1999 Julia Roberts rom-com might be even worse than her other 1999 rom-com, Notting Hill. Clearly, this was an excuse for Garry Marshall to capitalize on the success of Pretty Woman and make a movie with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere (and Hector Elizondo!) again.
So much about this movie drove me crazy and didn't make any sense to me. Anyway, let's just get into it, shall we?
Ike Graham (Richard Gere) is a writer who lives in New York with his fluffy cat named Italics (which, I won't lie, I kinda love that he named his cat that) where he has his own column in USA Today and everyone seems to know who he is. We see him outside walking to a bar (where he apparently writes his columns; like that helps when there are drunk people around you talking and laughing or playing darts while you're trying to finish your column by a certain deadline) and the people on the streets of NYC are asking him what his next column is going to be or give him ideas on what he should write about.
At the bar, a drunk man gives him an idea for a story he could write about. There's a woman from his hometown who dumps grooms at the altar. She is called "the runaway bride." The man tells Ike she's done this 7-8 times and she's already engaged to someone else. Without even interviewing her or anyone else (I guess he didn't have time since the article was in the next day's paper), Ike writes about the woman, Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) who lives in the small town of Hale, Maryland and works at her father's hardware store. He calls her a "man eater" and writes that "she like to dress her men up as grooms before she devours them."
Maggie sees the column, but thinks her best friend, Peggy (Joan Cusack), and cousin, Cindy, wrote the column as a joke. I don't know how she thinks these two small-town women could have a "joke" article published about her in USA Today. I was a bit confused by that. When she realizes it was not a joke, she begins to hyperventilate and writes back to the columnist to accuse him of slander and to set some things straight and points out he had fifteen "gross factual misrepresentations".
It just so happens that Ike's editor, Ellie (Rita Wilson), is also his ex-wife. (That's gotta be awkward!) She tells him she has to fire him for what he did. Look, I understand writing an article without checking your facts is really, really bad, BUT it's not like this is a major national or international story. This is just some random woman in small town USA who runs away from marriages at the last minute (the very last minute!) If anything, he should have been suspended from writing his article for a month, written Maggie a sincere apology, and maybe the paper should have given Maggie a nice little compensation. Then maybe Ike could have interviewed her and written a factual, actual article about her. Also, how did this article even get published without anyone checking it first?
Ike claims he did have "a source" and when Ellie guesses, "Some boozehound in a bar?", she's not wrong. She tells him if he goes quietly, he'll get severance pay. Hopefully he'll get enough to pay for the rent for the ridiculously lavish NYC apartment he resides in! I guess columnists for USA Today make a nice little chunk of change! The next day Maggie excitedly reads in USA Today that Ike has been fired and his column will no longer be appearing in the paper. The apology is written under the headline "USA Today divorces columnist Graham."
Ike's friend and Ellie's husband, Fisher (Hector Elizondo), does free lance for GQ and tells Ike he can still write his story. Maybe his facts weren't all correct, but his theory might be and if she runs again, he'll have a story. So Ike is up to the challenge and he decides to spend the next two weeks in Hale. Honestly, I have no idea why he cares about this story so much.
Even though Hale is a homonym for Hell, it is an idyllic small town where everyone is friendly and knows each other (and knows everyone's business...that part isn't so idyllic). There are many jokes where Ike compares Hale to Mayberry: he literally calls it Mayberry at one point, he whistles The Andy Griffith Show theme song when he and Maggie are walking through Main Street (I did laugh when she goes, "I know what that is"), and he calls this old woman "Aunt Bea". I'm surprised he didn't have an interaction with a little redhead boy so he could call him "Opie."
We find out that Maggie is getting married a week from Sunday. Now I'm not sure what day it is when Ike first meets her, but just keep in mind that Maggie is getting married "a week from Sunday." We'll come back to that later.
To Maggie's dismay, Ike tells her he's staying until the day of the wedding because he knows she's going to run again. (And honestly? I would place my money on him). While in Hale (why does that make me laugh?), Ike meets Maggie's father and grandmother (her mother died when she was in college) and even talks to the previous three men who were supposed to be Maggie's husband at one point. There's even a video of all three near-nupitals and Maggie is captured running away from all three. The fact that this video exists is hilarious.
So through the videos and Ike's interviews with the men and from what Maggie tells him, I've compiled a list about all of Maggie's fiancés:
The first husband-to-be- was to be Gill Chavez and their wedding had sort of a 60s/Woodstock vibe going on. This is probably because they were into going to concerts (they went to a couple in San Francisco) and they each got a rose tattoo (we see Maggie wearing a dress that shows off her back, that shows off her tattoo) and Gill proposed with a rose ring. (Maggie kept all her engagement rings (which she shows to Ike), which is a bit...odd. I feel like you should return the ring if you're not getting married to the guy!) On the wedding video Ike watches, the groom is playing the guitar and Maggie jumps on a trampoline and crowds surfs. Already, this seems like the worst wedding ever. Before she's about to get married, a guy with a motorcycle shows up (no, not her next husband, just some random dude she knew) and she hops on and they drive off. She has a fun, youthful look with her hair in pigtails with a sunflower crown. I am a bit confused by the time line of these weddings since we never get a solid year when each one occurred. Were they all about five years apart? Only a year? That would be a nice little detail to know. Ike exposes Maggie's tattoo as being a fake and this crushes Gill, even though this all presumably happened years ago.
The third wedding was to be to an entomologist named George Swilling, who happened to be the guy from the bar in New York who gave Ike the idea for the story in the first place. They have an outdoor wedding where Maggie rides in on a horse, only to gallop away. So by this time, it's absolutely ridiculous that Maggie is having a THIRD wedding, don't you think? The first wedding, okay, whatever, it's the first wedding and you just think Maggie wasn't ready to marry this guy or he wasn't the guy for her. The second wedding didn't bother me since everyone is probably thinking this is the guy she's meant to be with. But a THIRD wedding? After she's pulled this sh*t twice now? Uh-huh, no way. At first, I thought the poor schmuck (aka groom #3) didn't know about Maggie because he was from the city, but then I remembered he tells Ike that Maggie is from his hometown, so he knew about her. Why would you ever get engaged to someone who's run off on two previous weddings? And this guy seems to be the most vitriolic towards her, which is so stupid since he knew about her track record.
And speaking of people who are aware of Maggie's track record, this brings us to husband-to-be number four, Bob (Christopher Meloni), who is well aware of Maggie's past, but seems to think he will be able to get Maggie to marry him. Bob is a high school PE teacher and has climbed Everest twice (as someone who's read Into Thin Air and watched the movie, I have never understood the appeal of wanting to doing that). They will be traveling to Nepal for their honeymoon to climb Annapurra, which sounds like the worst honeymoon ever. Also, pretty sure Maggie has never climbed any mountain, so why would you take an inexperienced climber all the way to Nepal? Even Ike knows this is bs and tells Maggie she doesn't want to go there for her honeymoon, but she keeps insisting she does. To Maggie's dismay, Bob has invited Ike to the wedding and she asks him, "Don't you realize that he's writing another article about me?" Bob isn't worried because he's convinced she's not running. Poor Bob. Why does he think he's so special that this time will be different? Actually, Bob is special in a way, but we'll get to that later.
Since this is a small town, Maggie is able to convince the manager of the inn where Ike is staying to give her the key to him room and he does as long as she promises "not to take anything big" - now you think that sentence would stop after the word, "anything", but no, just as long she doesn't take "anything big" (I assume that means in value terms, not actual physical size, but still!). While snooping around, Maggie finds some of his Post-Its with notes about his story. She reads one of them aloud: "How does she get all those guys to propose? She's not that beautiful?" Eesh, that's harsh. And if he doesn't think Julia Roberts is beautiful, he must have some ridiculously high standards. But, of course, he thinks she's beautiful. We all know this.
None of his notes she finds paint her in a flattering light, so Maggie tells Ike that she will help him "write the truth." She tells him, "I've decided to cooperate and let you interview me for a thousand bucks." She wants this money to help buy a dress she really wants. For this, she will let him interview her and follow her around. They negotiate and she agrees to $650 in the end.
Out of all the wedding dresses Maggie wears in this movie, this one is my least favorite. Yes, it is pretty, I will admit that, but it would have been much better if it was a strapless dress without that weird sheer fabric.
So, surprise, surprise, we see Maggie and Ike growing closer and Maggie tells Ike how her dad began drinking more and more after her mom passed away and how she had to quit school (she was studying design) to come back home to help out with the hardware store. They even had a moment where they almost kiss, but they don't.
A rehearsal is held two days before the wedding. Bob insisted on this because he wants Maggie to "visualize the ceremony." It has been discovered if Maggie loses eye contact with the groom, then she gets freaked out and runs, so he keeps telling her to "keep her eye on the ball." Ike is there (of course) and Maggie suggests that he play the pastor because it will give him "a great view."
Of course, Bob is not happy about this and asks them how long this has been going on. Maggie says a minute and Ike says a little longer for him, which Maggie seems very happy about. She smiles and says, "Really?" WTF? Bob asks them what he's supposed to say to this and Ike replies that he could say, "Well, I hope you two will be really happy together." Again, WTF? If I were Bob, I would punch Ike in the face. Oh, wait, that's exactly what he does after he says what Ike suggests he should say. He storms out of the church with Maggie running after him, apologizing. She tells him, "At least this time I backed out before the wedding."
Yes, so Bob is special in that while Maggie still left him, at least it wasn't at the altar! No, she just left him for another man which might be even worse.
Maggie must be a sociopath because she does not care at all what she did to Bob (and we'll see pretty soon that Bob gets over it pretty fast too) because she and Ike start making out again. These two are shameless! Then we get this ridiculous moment where Ike suggests to Maggie that since she already has the dress, the church, and the wedding date, she may as well just marry him. This guy certainly has some nerve, doesn't he? He tells her, "You do have to go down the aisle with somebody that you love and who loves you back." Ugh, barf. No, Maggie does not have to go down the aisle if she's not ready to get married! Especially to some guy she's only known a week? Maybe a week and a half at best. So stupid and ridiculous. But she agrees to get married to him in two days.
When the big day arrives, it's covered by the media. One of the reporters says, "Maggie Carpenter, always a bride, never a bridesmaid" which made me laugh. But, seriously, does the country really care about some random small town woman's wedding? No, no they do not.
The ceremony is probably only an hour away and while Peggy and her cousin are in their bridesmaid dresses, Maggie is only wearing her veil and her her jeans and flannel shirt on. Hmm, something tells me she doesn't want to get married. Peggy tells her, "He's the one. He really is the one." Why? Why is he so different than the rest? Because he's Richard Gere and she's Julia Roberts? I really don't get it.
Ike has invited Ellie and Fisher to the wedding. Ellie whispers to him, "I have a car waiting out back for you in case she decides to run." Hmmm, did she jinx him? Remember how I said we'll see that Bob gets over his fiancee dumping him for another man pretty fast? Well, he actually comes to the wedding! Yes, he comes to the wedding that was supposed to be his. That seems weird, no? But, no, he's perfectly fine and even gives Ike a flower to wear on his lapel and gives Ike the advice to "maintain eye contact." Have I mentioned how stupid and unrealistic this movie is?
Okay, so I did laugh when the ceremony is about to start and Maggie tells her bridesmaids not to saunter down the aisle: "Just make time, just get there, just go." And they show the two women walk really fast down the aisle. That was actually pretty funny.
While watching this, I wondered why they made Maggie work at a hardware store because that's so unlikely for a woman in a romcom to work. When a random citizen of Hale reads outloud the headline in the paper the next day, I think they chose this profession for her just to have this punny joke: "Hardware Honey Goes Nuts and Bolts." You know someone was proud when they came up with that. In fact, I bet they came up with that first, then decided to make her work at a hardware store.
The summer of '99 must have been a really slow time for the news because this story is on the FRONT PAGE (yes, the FRONT PAGE) of USA Today with the headline, "Maggie's Mad Dash." I'm sorry, but WTF? Why would this make the FRONT PAGE of USA Today? Is that not the stupidest thing you've ever heard?
A couple months later (I'm not really sure how much time has passed, actually) Maggie talks to Ike about why she runs away from things. She tells him, "When I was walking down the aisle, I was walking toward somebody who had no idea who I really was. And it was only half the other person's fault because I had done everything to convince him that I was exactly what he wanted. So it was good that I didn't go through with it because it would've been a lie. But you knew the real me." She says she didn't know the real her. Before this scene and after the scene where she runs from the wedding, we see a montage of her "finding herself" (I guess). This includes trying different cooked eggs. While talking to her exes, Ike had discovered that they all told him Maggie's favorite kind of eggs were the same way they liked their eggs. And of course we saw Maggie tell Gill she would get a matching tattoo with him (even though hers was fake) and told Bob she would go mountain climbing with him (I wonder how long she would have gone on with the trip before she told him she couldn't climb a freaking mountain?) So apparently she was just making herself into something she wasn't so these guys would like her? Maybe subconsciously she did this because she was worried about her dad and didn't want to leave him? Maybe she just likes the attention and didn't want to be with the same guy? To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure why she ran away from so many relationships and why she did it at the last moment. I mean, it's fine if you don't want to marry someone, but maybe figure that out before the day of the wedding.
I have to complain about the scene where we see Maggie trying all the different eggs. This is one of the stupidest scenes (and there are so many!) because we see a big table with about ten plates that each hold different types of cooked eggs - poached, fried, sunny side up, scrambled, omelette - you name it. Okay, real talk here - if you wanted to see what kind of cooked egg was your favorite, you would realistically cook an egg one way, eat it, then cook the next egg and so on and so forth. Or you would go to a breakfast restaurant (like Le Peep! I don't think that's a chain, but it's this awesome place near where I live that serves breakfast. My mom always orders the Hen Pen) for a week and just order your eggs cooked differently every day. You don't cook all the eggs at once! They're going to get cold and nasty! Anyway, if you're dying to know (because I know you are), Maggie's favorite is eggs Benedict and she hates all other kinds of eggs. She also reveals she hates big weddings "because everyone is staring." WHAT? Then why did she have four of them? She tells Ike, "I'd like to get married on a weekday while everybody's at work." Again, why did she have so many weddings with so many invitees? I'm so confused.
The movie credits end with Mark Anthony singing "You Sang to Me" which is a song I forgot existed, but I totally love.
They should have just made Pretty Woman 2. Big mistake. HUGE.