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Consider Runaway Bride the film equivalent of a ten year reunion of the folks who made Pretty Woman (it's a couple of months short, but close enough for rock n roll). Rather than retread old ground -- high-powered successful businessman plays Prince Charming to a hard-working working girl whose Chosen Profession would indicate a deep seated aversion to commitment -- The Runaway Bride ups the stakes by making our principle characters, a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and the hard-working woman he wrongs in his column, natural enemies.
Richard Gere is Ike Graham, whose problem meeting deadlines finally brings him down when he runs with a storyline picked up at his local bar. Target of the column, as usual, is a woman (Graham so irks his femme readers that they all slap him on sight). Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts), who lives in Hale, Maryland, has run from the altar at least three times and her misadventures have made her the laughingstock of the community. Thus the film title. Ike's ex-wife Ellie, also his editor at USA Today (Rita Wilson), fires him when a letter from Maggie points out seventeen factual innaccuracies in the column. Ellie's new husband Fisher (Hector Elizondo), also Ike's best friend, finds an assignment for him at another magazine, to cover Maggie's fourth attempt. If Maggie runs, Ike is vindicated.
But when he hits town, Maggie recognizes Ike. She and best friend Peggy (Joan Cusack) do their best to humiliate and otherwise ignore the man, who still manages to befriend almost everyone in town, including Maggie's family and fiancee, Bob (Chris Meloni). The friendlier Ike gets, the more frustrated Maggie gets, until she realizes it's just better to cooperate with his research and story and prove that, yes indeedy, she can make the walk down the aisle without bolting for freedom.
Which is where the star chemistry kicks in and I'll leave you hanging.
Face it folks, when all is said and done, you know how it's going to turn out. The part we all want to see is that moment when Gere and Roberts look at each other and know this is it. Getting there is a fairly average dateflick. That moment, when it arrives, is absolutely perfect and electric.
But the flick ain't over at that point. heh heh heh.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Runaway Bride, he would have paid...
It's a date flick, and a pretty average one, until the star power kicks in. From that point, things pick up mightily.
Over in CrankyCritic® StarTalk: Hector Elizondo talks about a dozen Garry Marshall flix, this Pretty Woman reunion and a long life in the biz. Director Garry Marshall talks about his movie career, the reunion with Richard and Julia and some teevee stuff, too.
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