Sweet Home Alabama
Film Length: 109 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Sometimes What You're Looking For
Is Right Where You Left It
There's no doubt that Reese Witherspoon is one
of the cutest talents in Hollywood these days,
having charmed us in such films as Election
and Legally Blonde. On the surface, her
latest effort, Sweet Home Alabama seemed to
be yet another charming vehicle for this actress.
Unfortunately, the film never really rises above
Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon), is a
successful fashion designer living in New York
who is engaged to be married to the Mayor’s
(Candice Bergen) son (Patrick Dempsey) whom
she appears to be madly in love with. There's
just one small detail that needs to be resolved
before she takes her vows -- get a divorce from
her stubborn husband, Jake (Josh Lucas), who
lives deep in the heart of Alabama.
Melanie is no stranger to Alabama. It is her
former home state. It is where at the age of 10
she met her childhood sweetheart who she now seeks
a divorce from. They were married right out of
high school, but seven years ago she left to make
a better life for herself in the big city and
she's never looked back since. Now that's she's
back in Alabama, it doesn't take her long to cozy
up to some of the things she left behind -- including
This tolerable formula movie succeeds only for the
fact that Witherspoon is so cute to watch. The
problem is, everyone else isn't. The movie is filled
with quirky redneck characters who you could care
little about, and there isn't really a solid laugh
to be found anywhere in this film that runs way
too long for its own good. I mean, this entire
film is about a girl who has to choose between
two guys, and frankly, I think most people could
care less about which one she chooses. It's a
sort of tired formula that runs out of steam fast.
How is the transfer?
The transfer is just great. I'm not one who
prefers soft picture, but that is obviously the
look that director Andy Tennant was going for, and
that is exactly the kind of transfer you get. Because
of this, images aren't overly sharp or detailed,
but this transfer still remains above average
with accurate color display and clean background.
Starting with crisp, bass-heavy audio and excellent
stereo separation across the front channels, this
5.1 mix is quite sensational. The rears do an
exhaustive job of supporting this film's soundtrack.
You'll love the way George Fenton's score and
pop tracks by the likes of Sheryl Crow, Shannon
McNally, Avril Lavigne, Shedaisy and Ronnie Van
Zant just wrap themselves around the rear channels,
creating a toe-tapping musical environment. Even
the film's effect noises that include thunder that
dominates the start and ending of the film, to the
noise of crowds that pack the bars and street
festivals, come through with satisfying clarity and
Disney has obviously put an effort into putting
together a handful of extras for its Supplemental
area, but it's not hard to notice the absence of
both a behind-the-scenes featurette and the film's
So what do we get?
First ip is a full-length commentary by
director Andy Tennant. Right off the bat it was
amazing to hear how Hollywood movie magic transformed
a sunny crowded beach into what we see in the first
scene of the film. You really have to listen to what
this beach originally looked like and what the
filmmakers did in order to create this very magical
stormy-skied moment. And yes, folks, that jewelry
store scene was actually filmed in a real jewelry
store with real employees. One of the toughest
jobs for this director was shooting many of the
house scenes that were shot on location. Since the
rooms in the houses were small, it left very little
room for the large team of filmmakers to move about.
It took days just to properly block scenes that
lasted a only a few minutes. Then they had to deal
with the worst actor in the film -- the dog! Andy
Tennant seems to be a really nice guy with a very
warming voice, and he gladly takes us scene-by-scene
describing particular camera shots as well as some
scenes that had to fall by the wayside (such as a
rehearsal dinner that involved the Mayor, a beer can,
and a chicken). From the bits and pieces I heard,
this commentary sounds very informative.
Off The Cutting Room Floor consists of 8
deleted scenes from the film. Each deleted scene
contains a video introduction from director Andy
Tennant. Andy explains that many of the initial
test screenings greatly helped to shape this film.
A female character had to be deleted because her
relationship with the Patrick Dempsey was
misunderstood by audiences. The director felt that
while some scenes were good, they slowed the
pace of the film somewhat -- such is a case with
a scene at the beginning of the film where
Melanie's fashion show gets panned by the critics.
A humorous scene that comes at the film's finale
was ultimately removed because it conflicted with
the emotional level of the film. I can't say
any of these scenes really add much to the movie,
but it is interesting to hear Tennant explain
his logic for their removal.
In the film's alternate ending, director
Andy Tennant once again reveals how important the
opinions of test audiences are. I think you'll agree
with Tennant that this original ending is just a
little too devastating, although it really tried
to be humorous.
Finally, you can watch the film's Music Video,
Mine All Mine by SHeDAISY.
There's really nothing new or exciting about Sweet
Home Alabama, though Reese Witherspoon is such a
radiating presence here, the film somehow keeps its
head above water. I wouldn't say this is a totally
bad film -- in fact it has enough redeeming qualities
to it that it probably would make a great date flick.
I'd be very careful, however, recommending a blind
purchase to anyone.
Release Date: February 4, 2003
All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality