Runaway Bride

Originally written August 5, 1999

Runaway Bride a Runaway Hit

I am so well trained. Call me a sap, call me shallow, call me a Hollywood romantic, but they’ve got me. Hook, line and sinker.

Richard Gere, Julia Roberts and director Garry Marshall last teamed up in 1990 for Pretty Woman, one of the biggest films of the decade. In the ten years since, each one has gone on to achieve stardom, but, apparently, they all had so much fun (and Disney made so much money) with Pretty Woman, that they had been searching for a project to reunite on. Such a project came in the form of Runaway Bride, written by Sara Parriott and Josann McGibbon. Parriott’s and McGibbon’s biggest prior success was Three Men and a Little Lady, but what did it matter—this was Gere, Roberts and Marshall….how could it go wrong?

But I digress. How silly of me to bring issues of cinematic quality to this discussion. Runaway Bride is not nor does it ever, for one second, pretend to be something bigger than it is. It is shameless, it is derivative, it is simple, and it is utterly charming and WONDERFUL. If you looked up “romantic comedy” in the Hollywood writer’s dictionary, this screenplay would show up. It’s almost as if there’s a factory somewhere churning out these scripts, but why not? They work.

Runaway Bride is, and this will make you laugh and raise your eyebrows with curiosity, In and Out with a different story. I kid you not. How can it be the same movie if it’s got a different story? Because of how it makes you feel, how it looks, how it talks and how it makes you laugh. And because of its innocence. I will say it now: if you liked In and Out, you’ll like Runaway Bride. Trust me. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just kind of humorous.

Richard Gere plays Ike Graham, a bitter, cynical New York newspaper columnist (ever known a New York newspaper columnist who wasn’t bitter and cynical?) who hears a rumor about a woman in rural Maryland who has a chronic case of wedding day cold feet. Desperate for a topic for his column with his deadline approaching, he writes about her, without knowing the facts. After the above-mentioned Maryland woman, Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts), writes a letter to the paper accusing Graham of printing lies and defaming her, Graham is fired. Seeking vindication, Graham sets out to Maryland to get the real story and, hopefully, to get his job back.

Despite the feeling that you feel like a fish on a hook, as an audience member you don’t really care that you already know the film you’re watching, and that you already know how it’s going to end. This film is charming, and the two lead actors have such wonderful chemistry that it works. This is one of those films that just makes you feel good. Sometimes you just have to check your cynicism at the door and sit back and enjoy a good Hollywood factory picture starring the biggest movie star in the world and see why she’s so good. This movie will remind you of the good old days when Julia Roberts was everyone’s darling. She’s got that special something and it is on display in abundance here.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable evening at the movies that will help you escape from the realities of the cold, harsh world for a couple of hours, Runaway Bride is just the ticket. And don’t be afraid to admit you liked it—the world has too much cynicism already.

My rating: *** Worth paying full price