It’s been 20 years since Julia Roberts drove a bread truck through the streets of Chicago in hopes of winning Dermot Mulroney away from Cameron Diaz, all while being scolded by her friend, played by Rupert Everett.
Since then, the beloved rom com My Best Friend’s Wedding has become a Sunday afternoon staple, with fans watching and rewatching the 1997 film for its charismatic leads and love triangle drama. But in reality, a film many viewers recall fondly, My Best Friend’s Wedding doesn’t have one problem. It has four. And they’re all the main characters. It turns out, everyone in My Best Friend’s Wedding is actually the worst.
There are definitely some highlights of the film, like seeing Paul Giamatti in one of his first roles as a friendly bellman. There’s also the musical numbers, which have since become iconic and synonymous with My Best Friend’s Wedding, helping to revive Dionne Warwick’s greatest hits.
Then there were the low, low points. There’s actually a character in the film that is described in the credits as ‘Drunken Trashy Girl.’ Sadly, that’s just one of the indicators that this film was not created with a feminist eye, or an eye for likable leads.
Were the performances by the leading actors great? Of course. Roberts, Diaz, Mulroney and Everett don’t ever phone it in. Was the film problematic from start to finish? Oh, you betcha.
Say a little prayer with us and relive why the characters in My Best Friend’s Wedding were the worst.
JULIANNE POTTER (JULIA ROBERTS)
It’s no secret that Julia Roberts’ Julianne is the villain of My Best Friend’s Wedding. Upon first viewing, the character may just seem like a woman who needs to win at everything, but in fact she is much more awful than someone simply labeled as ‘competitive.’
After hearing that her best friend Michael is engaged and has thus ended their pact to get married at 28 (when did 28 became the new 48?), Julianne sets off to ruin the wedding of a man she could only stand dating for one month. That’s right, the pair dated for one month before, in her words, she ‘broke his heart’ and agreed to become best friends. How nice of her?
The original conclusion of the film had Julianne getting a happy ending with a dashing John Corbett, but test audiences reacted so negatively towards Julianne that the ending was changed before it hit theatres. Unfortunately, the rest of the film was left as is, meaning we still had to endure watching Julianne play the ultimate mean girl.
Some of her behaviour is simply dismissed as part of Julianne being a New Yorker, which would make more sense if the film was set in North Carolina, but it takes place in Chicago. They don’t have high-strung food critics in Chicago? Regardless of the state, showing up at a wedding and sabotaging the marriage instead of revealing your true feelings makes you a jerk, and that goes for any zip code.
Maybe if Kimmy was a terrible partner for Michael we would have some sympathy for Julianne, but that’s not the case. While Julianne tossed Michael aside after only a few weeks, Kimmy quickly fell in love with him, forgoing her own future to support his dream of being a sports writer. She even puts up with constant comparisons to his beautiful best friend. So yeah, Julianne is the worst.
MICHAEL O’NEAL (DERMOT MULRONEY)
Julianne gets the short end of the villain stick in My Best Friend’s Wedding, but we actually think it’s a tie for Most Awful Human with Michael. This is a guy who insists that his 20 year-old girlfriend Kimmy drop out of college, forget her dreams of becoming an architect and leave her family behind to follow him on the road while he writes about college sports team.
To make things even worse, Michael rubs his love for Julianne in Kimmy’s face from day one. He begs Julianne to come to his wedding, which he ‘can’t go through without her,’ and then uses every opportunity he can to tell Julianne that she looks great. She looks great in her underwear while trying on a bridesmaid dress. She looks great when they go out for dinner with his future wife. And she looks great while they slow dance on a boat tour of Chicago, a scene that would be romantic if the viewers didn’t already hate both the dancers.
Like most film love triangles (cough*Twilight*cough), the human prize being fought over usually isn’t worth fighting for. Why are we supposed to like Michael? Sure, Dermot Mulroney is handsome and charming 24/7, but the actual character of Michael has little to no substance. He seemingly only asked Kimmy to marry him because his deadline age of 28 was fast approaching. He’s not particularly nice to her and we only see him in the days leading up to their wedding, an event that is being fully funded and organized by Kimmy’s parents, meaning stress isn’t an excuse for poor manners.
When Kimmy’s father offers him a job, Michael is ready to call off the wedding. He spends the days leading up to the ceremony flirting with his best friend. And when his best friend admits she sabotaged his wedding, he forgives her after a single ‘pond scum’ reference because ‘that’s love.’ No, love is wanting someone to be happy even if they marry someone else.
If you want to see Dermot Mulroney in a great movie with a red head and wedding, we recommend forgoing your twelfth viewing of My Best Friend’s Wedding and opt for The Wedding Date. You’ll actually root for the ‘good guys.’
KIMMY WALLACE (CAMERON DIAZ)
The always likeable Cameron Diaz continues to entertain audiences with her versatility on screen and ability to age backwards in real life. Seriously, Diaz looks older in My Best Friend’s Wedding than she has in her last six films, a move that was likely done on purpose to make the audience forget that she’s supposed to be playing a 20 year-old and is not at all ready to marry a man who is almost 30 and acts like a child.
Kimmy’s perfection is likely supposed to make us resent her, but instead she’s endearing. She literally and figuratively embraces her fiance’s best friend, calling them ‘sisters’ and asking Julianne to be her maid of honour, a move that would make a normal person feel more secure in the fact that they’re not about to lose their best friend, but instead gain a new one. But this film isn’t dealing with rational characters.
Kimmy’s greatest flaw is her blind love for a man who isn’t committed to her or her happiness. The only moment we see Kimmy stand up for herself is when she faces off against Julianne in the bathroom at the baseball stadium. While her anger is rightly directed towards the woman who just kissed her fiance on their wedding day, 50 per cent of the anger should be shared with Michael for all around being the worst.
We can’t even root for Kimmy because for her to ‘win’ in the film means she would be marrying a man who is forcing her to quit school and abandon her career before it even begins. We don’t hate Kimmy. We just really think what she’s doing is the worst.
GEORGE DOWNES (RUPERT EVERETT)
Rupert Everett is at his most charismatic in My Best Friend’s Wedding as book publisher George, a character whose main role is to be the voice of reason to his unreasonable friend Julianne. We love George for his sage advice to Julianne, his ability to make a crowd of people in a seafood restaurant break out into song, and his concern for his friend that led him to surprising her at the wedding.
So, why is George on this list? If he’s friends with Julianne then there’s a good chance something is very wrong with him. Had this movie been three hours long we probably would have sadly ended up hating George as well.