Sweet Home Alabama (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

With an ending that is paved before we even sit down and watch this Reese Witherspoon romance, Sweet Home Alabama is almost dead in the water due to its lacking of humor and chemistry, as well as a solid script. Seen Cinderella? You’ve seen this. It does nothing new that any other film before it hasn’t presented, yet it was green-lighted because yes, audiences love the formula pieces and adore walking out happy even if it is guess-able to the detail. In other words, it’s a moneymaker. Without Mrs. Witherspoon flashing that cheery and very tolerable smile and grins and displaying her usual upbeat charisma, Alabama would be far from a sweet home to get comfortable in. But even as it stands, there isn’t a whole lot to like in this cheesy little romance. Characters are lacking depth, it’s slow and boring, and to top it off the bag has barely a laugh to behold.

Melanie Carmichael (Witherspoon) is a New York fashion designer who has just been given the wedding proposal of her lifetime. Her boyfriend, Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), is a very wealthy bachelor who’s willing to give Melanie all she needs to be content, and proposes in a glorious wedding ring shop where she can choose whichever one she desires. But there’s a problem. Melanie needs the divorce papers signed from her husband, Jake (Josh Lucas), who is not at a free-giving mood at the moment. Jake lives in Alabama with his ultra-annoying barking dog and carries along every other clich’ in the book of romance guidelines. Since Jake is not comfortable with the notion of signing, Melanie decides to jump the gun and give him the ultimate test; staying at his shack for a little bit to see how long he’ll put up. Only when her visitation is in gear, Melanie is confronted with the reality of her situation, forcing her to ponder upon her destiny and where she really wants her life to end up.

The problem with Sweet Home Alabama is that it’s marketed as a cute little romantic comedy, yet the trailer has more oomph than the entire film. I can take one of these clich’-run projects depending on how skillfully its executed in the long run, but this movie just doesn’t have enough jewels to fulfill much entertainment. There are films in the genre that have gone the right way in script and the director’s pull off. Such examples include Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail; even when both pictures can be labeled as the same movie.

Video: How does it look?

Sweet Home Alabama looked good on DVD when it was originally released, sporting a clean 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer by a studio not generally known for them. This Blu-ray looks to come from the same master, so it’s a modestly proportionate upgrade that will neither disappoint nor amaze. The film’s natural color palette looks good, image detail is fine and black levels are consistent, while a fine layer of grain has been preserved just for good measure. There’s a notable amount of digital noise on display, though, and it’s troublesome enough during certain scenes to become an eyesore. This 1080p, 2.35:1 transfer still represents an improvement over the original DVD, but it’s not quite as strong as it could’ve been.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and obviously sounds richer and fuller than the 2002 DVD, but I was again expecting slightly more than we get here. The highlights definitely make themselves known, but a slightly more ambitious or aggressive mix would’ve helped to sell the urban and rural locale differences a little better. As it stands, though, the dialogue is perfectly crisp, rear channels are used occasionally and LFE activity is strong at times. Optional English (SDH), Spanish, French and Portuguese subtitles are included during the film….and all applicable extras, despite what the packaging says.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The Sweet Home Alabama Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We begin with a commentary from Director Andy Tennant. “Off the Cutting Room Floor” is a series of eight deleted scenes which run about 18 minutes, including introductions by Tennant. It’s actually surprising how many scenes and sub-plots were but from this movie, so there is certainly some new material here. We also get an alternate ending (3 minutes), which also has an intro by Tennant. This isn’t really an “alternate”, as it has the same meaning, but it’s simply longer and sillier. The final extra is the video for the song “Mine All Mine” by SheDaisy.

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