Julia Roberts isn’t leaving people at the altar in movies anymore, but there was a time when she was involved in more than a couple of flicks with weddings as the central point of the plot. Heck, these were the 90s and early 2000s with a very different type of movie/ romantic comedy being made on the regular. One of those films, a real hit for the time, is on streaming right now, but only for a limited time. Runaway Bride is leaving Netflix in the United States at the end of the month on April 30th. There’s still time to check out the film and look back at a *simpler* time when movies could deal with some of the silliest relationship things imaginable.
Runaway Bride follows a standard romantic comedy principle about finding obvious love in all the oddest ways. Julia Roberts plays Maggie Carpenter, a woman who is good about getting into long-term relationships, but bad when it comes to closing the deal with an “I do”. She’s become somewhat infamous for leaving her fiancée at the literal last second and walking out of a wedding ceremony when on the very edge of actually getting married. This kind of flip-flopping (mostly flopping) has given her a bad reputation and even earns her some national attention when a reporter picks up on the story.
That reporter/ columnist ends up being none other than Richard Gere who plays Ike Graham, a guy who through a series of events not really worth explaining, tracks down Julia Roberts in an effort to write a story about her. Appears she’s about to head down the aisle again and he wants to get the details on why it hasn’t stuck before. Things are a little bit predictable from here on out and I think you can probably guess where some of the love story goes. Here, check out the trailer for Runaway Bride:
It’s a paint-by-numbers romantic comedy with the two leads finding each other, falling in love, having something come between then and ultimately finding love again. These kinds of movies work for sure, and even a formulaic script like this one has its place in the movie pantheon. It’s why so many of them have been made frankly and Julia Roberts has been a part of more than a couple over her tenure in Hollywood.
One such film was Pretty Woman which also featured these two leads in Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. In many ways, Runaway Bride is a spiritual successor to that first film. The roles are reversed but the central theme remains the same, finding love in odd places. The reason it also carries some of the same hallmarks is the late director Garry Marshall helmed both films. He has a ton of classic films under his belt with others including The Princess Bride, Beaches, Frankie and Johnny, and Overboard among others. In this one, it was clear he wanted to follow up the chemistry between Roberts and Gere in a slightly different kind of film.
Runaway Bride didn’t do all that well with critics sitting at 46% on Rotten Tomatoes and 39 on Metacritic. The general gestalt of the reviews centers on the film being a cute love story with a few whimsical moments but it fails to capture a truly meaningful storyline. That might be a bit too harsh across the board and there was clearly some comparison to the previous team-up between these folks which was much better received and frankly a more iconic film.
Where people did have an appetite for the film was at the box office where Runaway Bride $309 million on its $70 million budget. In a day when romantic comedies were still pulling in big bucks at the theater, you didn’t need the strongest story in the world to turn a tidy profit. Just having a name like Julia Roberts and Richard Gere involved meant folks were going to pile into the seats to see the story.
As for Julia Roberts, these days she’s picking and choosing her spots on the screen. She was in the Amazon Prime series Homecoming which was based on the popular podcast of the same name. It’s run for two seasons so far and been met with significant critical acclaim. It’s a darker story full of twists and turns about a government conspiracy. Next up for the actress is the series Gaslit which has its own government conspiracy vibe. This one is about the Watergate scandal and will have Roberts starring opposite Sean Penn. For the time being, check her out in Runaway Bride before it leaves Netflix.