Runaway Bride (1999)
June 27, 2023 4:55 PM - Subscribe

A reporter is assigned to write a story about a woman who has left a string of fiancés at the altar.

Having already left three grooms at the altar, Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) is branded "the runaway bride" by jaded city journalist Ike Graham (Richard Gere). But, after his facts are called into question, Ike races to Maggie's hometown to save his reputation and report on her upcoming fourth trip down the aisle -- during which he's convinced she'll run again. Though he's there on a muckraking mission, Ike can't help but fall for this breathtaking heartbreaker.

Claire McNear: What’s the one thing about this movie that’s aged the worst? As a person who writes words for a living, I’m tempted to say the depiction of journalism, in which a USA Today relationships columnist is the kind of New York City celebrity who gets hollered at by construction workers, and who can afford a grandiose apartment with a terrace overlooking Central Park. But realistically, it’s the underlying grossness of the journalistic premise that sparks the inevitable romance: The first column Gere’s Ike writes about Maggie is a gadfly recounting of her supposedly seven engagements (it’s only four!) in which he didn’t even speak to her; “Boy, she gets around” is a pitch that multiple editors apparently found both inoffensive and newsworthy. Hall & Oates’s “Maneater” plays as his convertible rumbles into town. I’d be mad, but it really is a jam.

Mary Elizabeth Williams: Such lack of realism isn't a crime, especially in comedy. But Marshall's world is so zealously cute, so condescendingly trite, there's never any room for the tension and sparks necessary to make the movie work. When Gere and Roberts confront each other about their mutual moral cowardice, their dialogue has the canned perfunctoriness that signals the beginning of the "Why, you really do care!" portion of the film. Everything about them, from their courtship to their character quirks, feels written in shorthand rather than thought out. It's as if the filmmakers figured casting the movie was enough -- why bother actually writing it?

MaryAnn Johanson: 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.

posted by Carillon (8 comments total)
I certainly didn't hate it as much as the reviewers I found did. Looking back on it is has a certain charm, but very much one I would have to be prompted to revisit, it's a bit treacly and one that doesn't really reckon with the structure as a whole, I mean how could it? But means that it falls flat.
posted by Carillon at 5:01 PM on June 27, 2023

I've not seen this movie, but I have a very hard time believing it could be worse than The Wild Wild West, which is bad in so many ways that it crosses the line from "bad" meaning flawed or poorly made into the realm of "bad" meaning evil.
posted by Naberius at 5:56 AM on June 28, 2023 [2 favorites]

I recall it as a vehicle for Julia, a giant mechanical spider would have added a bit of spice, but there you go.
posted by sammyo at 6:02 AM on June 28, 2023 [3 favorites]

I love this movie, and highly recommend this episode of the Sentimental Garbage podcast about it, for loving discussion and critique. Including a great discussion of Joan Cusack's character, and what it would really be like to be Maggie's friend!!!
posted by hepta at 6:47 AM on June 28, 2023 [1 favorite]

It was not worse than either Wild, Wild West or The Haunting but this movie is the peak of the “a man is absolutely terrible to a woman lol whoops now they’re in love” style of romantic comedy. The degree to which this might have been ameliorated by a giant mechanical spider remains untested.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:37 PM on June 28, 2023

Now I really want to watch Wild Wild West, because it hasn't been on the purple and I used to watch the TV show when I was a kid, but I can't find it for free on streaming. It really must be that bad.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:52 PM on June 28, 2023

Probably not the thread for it, but I guess I was the right age for it when it came out, so really liked it as a kid.
posted by Carillon at 8:51 PM on June 28, 2023

Wild Wild West has just been added to Tubi, if anyone REALLY wants to see it.
posted by profreader at 7:32 PM on July 4, 2023

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