Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) belongs to an illustrious, genteel family and grew up in a grand colonial style house in Alabama. She leaves the Deep South to seek fame and fortune as a fashion designer in New York City and finds herself engaged to Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), the most eligible bachelor in town and the mayor's son. There's just one hitch Melanie needs to take care of before she gets hitched. Everything about Melanie Carmichael's past is a pack of lies. For starters, her parents can be best described as country hicks who live in a rundown cottage. And she's already married to her childhood sweetheart Jake (Josh Lucas), who refuses to divorce her because he believes in the old-fashioned romantic idea of soul mates.
Predictably, what we get is a clichéd portrayal of the big bad city and the warm hospitality of the South. The folks down here ain't rich or famous but they sure have the biggest hearts, big enough to even forgive Melanie for becoming a damn Yankee. Although Melanie comes down South with an agenda, she soon discovers that the heart is where the home is whether she likes it or not - and she has to make a choice between her nice, but rather insipid fiancé and her charming but laid-back husband.
To be entirely fair, the movie does have its moments- such as the scene where Melanie, frustrated by the irreconcilable differences between the North and South, comments "You need a passport to come down here" and there is a palpable chemistry between Witherspoon and Lucas. But if you are looking for something more than a frothy romantic comedy, you will be disappointed.This article was first published on 26 Apr 2003.