“I’ve got exactly four days to break up a wedding and steal the bride’s fella, and I haven’t one clue how to do it.”
And so sets forth the plot of My Best Friend’s Wedding which premiered in theatres 25 years ago on June 20th, 1997. Julia Roberts is Julianne, a food critic who, after learning her best friend Michael is engaged, realises she’s loved him all these years and decides to do everything she can to break up the wedding.
The movie was notable for two reasons. First, it marked a return to romantic comedy for Julia who had more recently starred in darker films like Mary Reilly and Michael Collins, and second, it was the rare romantic comedy that dared to make the protagonist the antagonist. We weren’t necessarily supposed to root for Jules but Julia Roberts’ undeniable charisma, megawatt smile, that infectious laugh of hers made it almost impossible not to, even if she was plotting against “adorable, chocolate-covered Kimmy,” played to perky perfection by Cameron Diaz.
Re-watching the film on its 25th anniversary, it’s impossible to deny the film’s endearing charm. The movie still holds up as a perfectly cast, fun-filled romp that will have you longing for the days when rom coms, not superhero movies, ruled theatres. The other thing that strikes you is that Michael, not Jules, is the real villain. Allow me to make my case.
First, Michael gives Jules, his alleged best friend, approximately zero notice ahead of his wedding (it’s Wednesday night when he breaks the news and the wedding is going down Sunday) And this isn’t an elopement or a quickie City Hall wedding, this is a full-fledged multi-day event elaborate affair. Yes, Michael acknowledges he had been reaching out to Jules for a month before they finally connected, but even then, a month’s notice for a wedding that requires travel? Nah, dude. You’re not getting a gift, especially not one off the registry with this trash notice.
Second, Michael is marrying a child. Not a literal child, but almost. Michael is 28-years-old (can we pause for a brief moment to talk about how WILD Michael and Julianne’s pact to marry each other if they weren’t hitched by 28 was? Twenty-eight? Insane!) and Kimmy is 20. Twenty-years-old! Grooming much, Michael? Maybe wait until her frontal lobe is fully formed, Michael? Kimmy’s not even old enough to legally have a glass of wine at her own wedding! An eight-year age difference isn’t that big a deal if one of you is, say, 36-years-old while the other is 44-years-old, but when one of you, especially the woman, is 20? I’m sorry, it might be a white wedding but all I’m seeing is red. Flags, that is.
And speaking of red flags, when Jules is in the changeroom after her maid-of-honour dress fitting and Michael walks in catching her in her underwear, instead of immediately walking back out of the room as any betrothed gentleman should, Michael says to Jules, “I’ve seen you a lot more naked than that,” and when he finally does leave, he turns back and says, “you look really good, without your clothes on.” Uhm what? Ladies, would you be okay with your fiancė speaking to his female bestie that way? I’m a long leash, non-jealous type of partner, but that’s a no from me, dawg.
What about when Kimmy plants the idea of Michael taking a job at her billionaire father’s company? Michael reacts so negatively he has Kimmy, who has given up her pursuit of architecture in support of his career, in tears begging for his forgiveness, saying she’ll just die without it. It’s giving toxic masculinity with a side salad of gaslighting.
Let’s cut to when Michael and Jules are on the Chicago architecture tour boat (sidenote: a must do if you’re ever in the Chicago area!) and they embrace and dance while Michael serenades Jules with “their song.” If you were also on that boat and looked over at them, would you not assume they were the affianced couple? Not that this man has a whole child bride somewhere else? It’s worth noting that Michael and Kimmy later dance to this same song at their wedding. Gross. And of course, there’s the time Michael sucks his bride-to-be’s wedding ring off Jule’s finger when it gets stuck. Ugh, this guy sucks. Literally.
But perhaps Michael’s biggest crime is that the man is a big dull dud. He’s boring. He’s beige. Several times throughout the movie, I found myself thinking “this is the guy Kimmy is giving up her dreams for?” and “this is the guy self-described cynic Jules is losing her shit over? Really?” Make it make sense. Dud doesn’t even have BDE. Sure, Dermot Mulroney is attractive and a sufficient actor, but I’d rather spend an evening with a cardboard cutout of Rupert Everett’s George than a live version of Michael.
Ah yes, George. Is there anything better in My Best Friend’s Wedding than Rupert Everett?
It’s impossible not to fall in love with him during the “I Say a Little Prayer” singalong scene. If this movie is ever re-made, and I truly hope it’s not because it’s perfect even with meh Michael, I’d love to see a new version end with both Jules and Kimmy realising Michael is mediocre at best and using the money that would have been spent on the wedding going on an epic vacation with George.