Picks and Pans Review: My Best Friend's Wedding

updated 06/23/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/23/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz, Rupert Everett

Julia Roberts is on a mission: "I've got exactly four days to break up a wedding," says her character, a food critic, early on in this frustratingly self-sabotaging movie. The nuptials she intends to stop are those of her closest pal (Mulroney), a sports-writer with whom she had a fling back in college, and the perfectly lovely heiress (Diaz) with whom he has fallen head over heels in love. Roberts doesn't believe theirs is the real thing. After all these years, she has now decided that she loves Mulroney, that surely he must love her, and they belong together.

Fine. Tell the man. Tell him now. Of course, if she did that, we wouldn't have a movie. So, instead, Roberts spends most of Wedding pulling every lying, vicious, dumb trick in the book on Diaz to make her squirm and to turn Mulroney against his fiancée. It's painful to watch. Why should we care about such a deceitful, nasty character? In classic romantic screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby and The Awful Truth (rent these, you'll be glad you did), leading ladies Katharine Hepburn and Irene Dunne never set out to make their rivals look bad. Rather, they just tripped up the hero until he finally stumbled onto the truth about whom he really loved.

Roberts, very much back to her Pretty Woman adorableness, smiles wide, tosses her long curly locks with gusto and dutifully executes numerous pratfalls, but her heart never really seems to be in her character's evil doings. The talented Mulroney, who has smoldered sexily in smaller films such as Kansas City and Trigger Effect, seems muted here. Diaz is winning, but the movie is stolen by Everett, who plays Roberts's gay confidant. Whether urging her to simply tell the truth or convincing an entire restaurant full of people to join him in a spirited rendition of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David tune, "I Say a Little Prayer," he is to this movie what Eve Arden was to numerous pictures of the '40s and '50s. Which is to say, the film gets a huge lift every time he appears, and we in the audience go, oh boy, we'll have pure unadulterated fun for the next few minutes. (PG-13)

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