Since Runaway Bride is directed by Marshall and stars Julia Roberts
and Richard Gere, it's natural to compare it to their previous shared project,
Pretty Woman. However, while that film presented a story that went
down smoothly and sparked with Roberts's charm and energy, Runaway Bride
shows nothing but two tired actors putting in time. In a film with an altogether
stupid premise and pathetically unfunny dialogue, Roberts and Gere seem
to be in a contest to see who can look more bored. They both lost; it was
Maggie Carpenter (Roberts) is a woman whose fear of commitment is so
great she has left her last three fiancés at the altar, and her latest
nuptial bolt has drawn the attention of misogynistic USA Today columnist
Ike Graham (Gere). He goes on assignment to her small town of Hale, Md.,
to find that she's engaged to groom #4. Sure that she'll exit the church
before saying "I do," Ike makes camp and befriends the local townsfolk.
He meets all three previous intendeds and many other friends and family
of Maggie's, and through sharp investigative journalism, discovers that
she didn't really love any of the previous guys. She has made the mistake
of trying to mold herself to what they expected of her, but Ike knows she
just needs someone who will love her for what she is. Then they look into
each other's eyes and no, no, I won't give it away.
This story idea is stupid enough as it is, but the script, written by
the team of Sara Parriott and Josann McGibbon, with help from Audrey Wells,
is so full of trite humor that it astounds me it was written after 1975.
There's the football coach character who cannot utter a sentence without
making some idiotic sports analogy. There's the supposedly homemade wedding
video that cuts back and forth between a half dozen camera angles, including
a crane shot. And then there's the scene where Ike's car stalls (on a dark
road with Maggie in the passenger seat) because he get this
didn't know it was supposed to take unleaded gas. Really, now, can you even
buy leaded gasoline anymore?
There's a slight twist near the end that is supposed to make us all say, "Wow, I didn't see that coming," but all it really does is prolong the time until we can get in our cars and try to shake off the embarassment of paying to get into the thing. Gere and Roberts are the dullest I've ever seen them, and director Marshall doesn't seem to know whether this is supposed to be a romance or a slapstick comedy. Marshall has had plenty of successes in his day; Beaches was good, and Pretty Woman was enjoyable, but after his two latest films (this and The Other Sister), I think it's time for him to hang up the ol' megaphone. *½
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