9 Apr 2014

ROM COM RULES - My Best Friend's Wedding

Films have formulas and rules, but how well do films follow those formulas?  More than just being romantic and having comedy, a Rom Com follows a strict formula and a set of rules.
"You know, getting what you deserve isn't fair." ~ Julianne Potter.
My Best Friend's Wedding tries to break the rules.  Does it?

The following analysis may contain spoilers for

My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)

When Julianne Potter learns that her best friend Michael O'Neal is getting married, she decides to break them up and win him back.

RULE #1 - The Characters

That's Michael re-enacting the
"Now Kiss" meme in his head.
A:  The Couple - In the normal Rom Com, Kimberly "Kimmy" Wallace (Cameron Diaz) & Michael (Dermot Mulroney) would be the couple, the set-up of this film Julianne (Julia Roberts) and Michael are the couple.
i.  Balance - No balance, the film is focused on Julianne.
ii.  Opposites in Attitude/Behaviour - Julianne claims of Michael "no, he's nothing like me."  She fears commitment, he doesn't.
iii.  Opposites in Life - Both Julianne and Michael work in the media (food critic and sports writer respectively).
iv.  Occupations/free time involving Romance or the Media - Both Julianne and Michael work in the media (food critic and sports writer respectively).

B:  The Best Friend/Confidant - Julianne "best friend these days" is her editor George Downes (Rupert Everett).
Rupert Everett
(Not from this film. Which is a crime.)
i.  Ugly - so very, very not ugly.  I mean, he's played by that perfectly formed chunk of man Rupert Everett so how could be anything but "devastatingly handsome"?
ii.  Wacky - not really, but behaves that way to embarrass Julianne.
iii.  Slutty/Sleezy - No.  Which is surprising for a gay character.
iv.  Family - No.
v.  The Opposite Sex - Yes, and gay.

C:  The Third Person - Just like the film should be Kimmy/Michael, not Julianne/Michael, the third person should be Julianne, but is Kimberly.  Kimberly's father is rich and owns a sporting team and a cable network.  No mention of a brewery.

RULE #2 - There Won't Be T&A

The guy sees the girl in her underwear.
As with many of the Rom Coms, no nudity, but an underwear scene.

RULE #3 - The Meet-Cute

Julianne and Michael met in college long before the film.  Kimmy and Michael also met before the film.  Although there is no meet-cute in the film, George invents one about himself and Julianne.

RULE #4 - Circumstances
Again, this is not how Rupert
appears in the film.

Julianne's inability to commit to a relationship kept them apart until decided to marry someone else.

RULE #5 - Realisation of Love

Julianne tells George that she initially set out to claim Michael as her own, but realised she loved him.   

RULE #6 - The Break-Up

There is no break-up between Julianne and Michael since they are never really together.  The closest that they get is him running after Kimmy after Julianne admits her feelings for him.
A:  Reason - Because he actually loves Kimmy.
B:  Event - It was at a pre-wedding brunch.
C:  Humiliation - They run across the law within sight of the party, but not one really cares and it is hardly the most embarrassing thing to happen at the brunch.
E:  Turmoil - She goes through turmoil, Michael and Kimmy go through turmoil because of her.

RULE #7 - Separated Forever

The entire concept of the film is that Michael will be marrying someone else.

RULE #8 - Redemption
Stolen Bread truck:
transport and free food.

A:  Giving Up Something Dear - Julianne gives up her ideas of fearing commitment.
B:  Unusual Method of Transport - Julianne steals a bread van to chase Michael (who is using a normal car to case Kimmy).
C:  Stunt - At the train station Julianne jumps some cases.  Not a huge stunt, but still.
D:  Romantic Gesture - Julianne embarrasses herself in a crowded women's toilet admitting the truth to Kimmy, romantic gesture style.

RULE #9 - Happily Ever After

Julianne and George seem to have the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Turns out the only good male best friend,
is a gay male best friend. 

RULE #10 - Sequels

No sequels.


  • Rules that are followed in this film:  1Aii; 1Aiv; 1Bv; 1C, 2; 4; 5; 6A; 6B; 7; 8A; 8B; 10.
  • Rules that are partially followed in this film:  1Bii; 1Biii; 6C; 6E; 8C; 8D; 9.
  • Rules that are not followed in this film:  1Ai; 1Bi; 1Biv; 3; 6D.
~ DUG.


  1. Biii -- Love it.

    Meet-Cute--There is one in the film--When Julianne meets Kimmy. If I remember correctly (and I have a very vague recollection), it's awkward and weird because Kimmy is so gushy with enthusiasm and overflowing with cute. (Seriously, I saw this movie so so so long ago that I may be mistaking Diaz being clumsy cute in some other movie with her being clumsy cute in this one.)

    I like Dermot Mulroney. Rupert Everett is yummy too. I think you need a Rupert Everett intervention, however. This is beginning to look like the start of a potentially serious problem.

  2. I hadn't thought about it like that. I just assumed that the meet-cute only applied to the primary couple, but Kimmy and Julianne's meeting was cute. As you say, Kimmy was so gushy. Yes, Diaz was her usually clumsy cute shtick her, which is often more annoying that endearing. But somehow in this film despite all the things that the character did that I usually find annoying in her other films, in other film characters played by different actresses and in real life, there was something actually endearing about her that stopped me hating her. Somehow the film makers pulled off one of the hard tasks they set themselves - making the annoying other woman in a Rom Com into one you want to get the guy.

    There are a lot of actors that I think are like Dermot. Really good looking, but every now and then there's an angle or a facial expression that ruins it. And screen presence is the same. Sometimes he's got that magnetism, sometimes he's just dull. In my opinion anyway.

    Rupert, of course, is perfect as always. And it's not a problem, I'm pretty sure if we met and he actually showed an interest in me I'd remember I'm straight. Pretty sure I'd remember. Although, it doesn't count if it's a celebrity crush, right?

  3. I definitely find Cameron Diaz annoying at times but she does play the role very well. I agree with you about how well the writers handled the characters in this movie. It's one of the few of these types of films I've enjoyed. I would say more, but I'm researching intervention programs.

    Oh and I agree about Mulroney. He has an odd mix of appeal and banal. Maybe that's why I like him.

    Dramedy recommendation: Educating Rita

    1. Agreed. It's the only American Rom Com I remember enjoying. Probably because they are playing with the genre.

      Hmmm, Dramedy. I hadn't thought of that there are probably a few dramedies that fit (to some degree) the rules. It's worth a try. Been a while since I've seen Educating Rita, too.

    2. I was thinking that the set-up for Educating Rita is clearly meant to draw the viewer to think "rom-com" but then it turns away from that because of Susan's sexuality and Frank's addiction. The first part definitely screams rom-com, though, with the meet-cute, etc.

      I've already admitted that part of the reason I force myself to slow down and read your rom-com posts is that I tend to dismiss the genre altogether. I could probably more easily suffer them more if I were to watch it through an analytic filter.

  4. Honestly, I find that is very much the case. Instead of dreading the formula you look forward to it, or enjoy the little differences and you can ignore the bad comedy. But I'm not sure I'd watch one for fun though.