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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Runaway Bride (review)

Movie by Numbers

Do Hollywood execs think audiences are morons, and will watch any old piece of crap starring Julia Roberts?

They’d be right. Runaway Bride, perhaps the godawfulest movie of the summer of 1999 (yes, worse even than Wild Wild West and The Haunting), looks on track to make an astounding $150 million dollars. Never mind that it plays like a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie assembled from bits of pop-culture detritus and scraps of other box-office blockbusters.

Though perhaps that’s the secret of its success.

Check it out:

  • It reunites Richard Gere (The Jackal, Red Corner), Julia Roberts, and director Garry Marshall, together again for the first time since their previous inexplicable smash, Pretty Woman.
  • Gere plays writer Homer Eisenhower “Ike” Graham. Homer Simpson is a popular TV character. Eisenhower was a popular president. And who doesn’t love graham crackers?
  • Ike is a columnist for USA Today, aka McPaper, the most popular newspaper in America.
  • Roberts (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Conspiracy Theory) plays Maggie Carpenter. Maggie is the name of another — aha! — Simpsons character. The Carpenters were a popular singing group.
  • Joan Cusack (Arlington Road, Grosse Pointe Blank) plays Maggie’s friend Peggy Flemming — not that Peggy Flemming, although that Peggy Flemming was a popular ice skater.
  • Maggie’s large father is played by Paul Dooley (Telling Lies in America). Big Daddy was a flick even more successful than Runaway Bride was this summer.
  • Maggie, when not leaving hapless fiancés standing at the altar, enjoys kick-boxing. Hong Kong action movies are one of the latest crazes to hit the multiplexes.
  • Maggie lives in a small Maryland town. The Blair Witch Project (only slightly less successful this summer than Runaway Bride) is set near a small Maryland town.
  • Maggie’s frighteningly Norman Rockwell-esque hometown is suspiciously like the frighteningly Norman Rockwell-esque town of Seahaven depicted in a huge hit from last summer: The Truman Show.
  • Maggie puts the “ding” in “wedding.” Austin Powers ($210 million this summer) put the “ger” in “swinger.”
  • Runaway Bride features lots of suspiciously staged-looking home videos (of Maggie’s near weddings). Suspiciously staged-looking home videos are featured prominently on the popular Fox TV network.
  • A FedEx truck appears in a scene in Runaway Bride. FedEx is a popular way to ship packages.
  • One of Maggie’s ex-fiancés is a devout Deadhead. Cole Sear, the spooky kid in The Sixth Sense, sees “dead people.”
  • Maggie and Ike both act like childish idiots. Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace ($435 million this summer) acts like a childish idiot.

Coincidences? I think not.

viewed at a public multiplex screening

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