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Julia falls for Richard all over again in 'Runaway Bride'

By Richard von Busack

THE ADVANTAGE of having an old warhorse like Gary Marshall at the camera is that he rummages through good-bad old movies for ideas. Watching Runaway Bride is like watching an old Rock Hudson/Doris Day picture--the last stage of the screwball comedy. USA Today columnist Ike (Richard Gere) is inspired to write a woman-hating column after hearing the story of a Maryland girl who has stranded three different men at the altar. Ike then goes to meet the woman in question, Maggie (Julia Roberts), to find out what the rest of the story is.

Ike arrives to find Maggie preparing a fourth wedding with a high-school coach (Christopher Meloni--cleverly playing the Ralph Bellamy type as a jock). Maggie and Ike, of course, fall in love; there's nothing like denouncing a woman in the national press to make her eyes shine. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman has called the film "pure, sweet wedding porn." On the contrary, Runaway Bride doesn't linger over the perfect white wedding. It's not a possession-fest like Pretty Woman but instead seeks something simpler: a life in a small town of fantasy perfection, the low-key pleasures of a pretty star who spends most of her time onscreen in Hawaiian shirts and jeans. (Obviously, I'm not saying that Runaway Bride is less of a fantasy than Pretty Woman.)

Roberts, the tomboy-puppy, is hard to resist, and she and Gere have charisma as of old. Joan Cusack's able comedic support as the best pal helps overcome the clumsy stuff--the heavy-handed product placement, the "granny talks dirty" laughs and, worst of all, the attempts at self-analysis Marshall includes to suss out why Maggie has this nasty habit. Never use screen time to analyze why a screwball heroine does the things she does, lest ye become a screwball yourself.


'Runaway Bride' (PG; 106 min.), directed by Gary Marshall, written by Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott, photographed by Stuart Dryburgh and starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, plays at selected theaters.

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From the August 5-11, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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