This giddy romantic comedy should do for Josh Lucas what last year's Legally Blonde did for his radiant costar Reese Witherspoon—namely raise his stock sky-high in Hollywood. Lucas, a supporting player in A Beautiful Mind, is seriously cute. With his blond hair, mischievous blue eyes and lazy grin, he has the devastating looks and magnetic sexiness of a young Paul Newman.
Lucas plays Jake, the good ol' boy husband whom Melanie (Witherspoon), now a rising fashion designer in Manhattan, abandoned seven years earlier back in rural Alabama after a quickie teen marriage. Upon becoming engaged to the dashing and attentive Andrew (Dempsey, no slouch himself in the handsome department), whose snobby mother (Bergen) is the Big Apple's mayor, Melanie hightails it home to legally shed Jake. Though she calls him a "dumb, stubborn redneck hick" and he replies in kind, it's clear there's still potent chemistry between the two.
As romantic comedies go, Home is enjoyable fluff. There's sizzle aplenty betwixt Lucas and Witherspoon, who comfortably carries the picture on her slender shoulders, while Dempsey's charm means there's actually a teaspoon of suspense about the story's outcome. But in striving to build up the characters as more than stereotypes, director Andrew Tennant (Anna and the King) allows the carpentry to show: Subplots are clumsily wedged in, or hinted at and then dropped. And a quality supporting cast (Mary Kay Place and Fred Ward as Melanie's trailer-dwelling folks, Jean Smart as Jake's mom and Ethan Embry as a school pal) is largely wasted. (PG)
Bottom Line: Plenty of Southern charm