Main cast: Richard Gere (Ike Graham), Julia Roberts (Maggie Carpenter), Joan Cusack (Peggy), and Christopher Meloni (Bob)
Director: Garry Marshall
I admit I watch this show with great trepidation. I’ve so sick of the much older man-young woman pairs in romantic or any movies for that matter. I actually cringed watching The Entrapment – Sean Connery looks like he needs a walking stick. In The Horse Whisperer and Up Close and Personal, I closed my eyes whenever I envision Robert Redford’s wrinkly arms caressing a young woman’s. I swallowed a gulp when I saw Harrison Ford‘s less-than-flattering body in Six Days, Seven Nights, and I screamed in terror when I saw Clint Eastwood‘s bare-chested love scene in True Crime. It is simply awful to see these men struggling to match the vibrant liveliness of their granddaughters… sorry, co-stars.
Hence it is with great joy and relief when I actually enjoyed Runaway Bride. It is so warm and romantic that all my readiness to shriek in terror should Richard Gere takes off his shirt gives way to sheer cozy enjoyment. I rest my head on hubby’s shoulder and enjoyed the movie instead.
In a spooky parallel to real life scenario, Julia Roberts is Maggie, an infamous woman who had left three men standing at the altar and counting. She is on the verge of marrying Bob and the town is taking bets and looking for gifts that can be returnable. At the other side of the country, Ike Graham, a columnist with a head too big for his body, is in need of an idea to meet his deadline. His life isn’t too sunny: his ex is his boss and his column is reviled by many women as diatribes and rants against them. When one of Maggie’s ex bumps into Ike and tells the man about her, Ike cooks up a column comparing Maggie to infamous man-eating Hindu and Roman goddesses. Needless to say, Maggie is not amused. Her letter to the editor – Ike’s ex – strikes a chord with the latter and Ike is soon fired.
Never mind that Ike’s firing is excessive in real life. This is a movie, a fun movie! On with the show. Ike decides to get some restitution – he’d be there to cover the news when Maggie undoubtedly bolts her fourth almost-wedding! So off he goes to find Maggie.
Maggie is not happy and gives him an unwanted multi-colored hair job. Ike trails after her, stalker-style, wins his way into her family and friends, and soon all her embarrassing stories are coming out from everyone who meets Ike. Maggie vows not to fall without a fight, no way! Oh boy, the stage is set for a big battle. You can smell the blood in the air.
But no, Maggie and Ike never get stuck in the long-drawn big misunderstanding nonsense. It is a joy to see them eventually see each other in new light. I can’t say enough that the chemistry between Richard Gere and Julia Roberts is simply explosive. These two can give an impression of undying love with just a few simple gestures. The scene where Ike defends Maggie from her insensitive friends could have been corny, but with him looking at her as if telling her that he will always be there for her, then she turning away in hurt and confusion – oh, I’m touched instead. Maggie’s eventual realization that she careless abandonment of her suitors have caused the men a lot of hurt is well-done too. Her subsequent remorse makes her a truly likeable character.
Ike starts out slime but redeems himself. Why not? With Maggie, he discovers that beneath his hard cynic exterior, he still has a heart. I can understand why these two people fall in love. They are perfect for each other.
Never mind that the whole small town is so perfect the buildings shine golden in sunlight. Or that the town has street singers harmonizing in perfect nice happy tunes, and that everyone’s a WASP. I enjoyed this movie so much, because it leaves a warm glow in me when it ended, that I recommend this movie heartily to everyone I know. I’m even willing to forgive them for relegating the wonderfully funny Joan Cusack to yet another funny best buddy role. She should fire her agent; she deserves a starring role.