Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joe Roth|
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Cinematography||Phedon Papamichael Jr.|
|Edited by||Stephen A. Rotter|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$138.2 million|
America's Sweethearts is a 2001 American romantic comedy film directed by Joe Roth and written by Billy Crystal and Peter Tolan. It stars Julia Roberts, Crystal, John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones, with Hank Azaria, Stanley Tucci, Seth Green, Alan Arkin and Christopher Walken in smaller roles.
Film publicist Lee Phillips is tasked with promoting a film featuring a husband-wife acting team, Gwen Harrison and Eddie Thomas. His job is complicated by the fact that the eccentric director of the film, Hal Weidmann, refuses to show anyone a cut of the film, demanding the first viewing take place at a press junket. To promote the film and to save his job, Lee decides to focus on the two stars: Gwen and Eddie, once known as "America's Sweethearts". Unfortunately, they are now going through an ugly split. Gwen had an adulterous affair with her co-star Hector Gorgonzolas, who she now lives with, driving Eddie to an emotional breakdown. His actions after their split led Gwen to take out a restraining order against Eddie, and he is now living at a New Age retreat. Lee decides that his best chance to promote the film is to convince the press that the couple has reunited.
Lee enlists the help of Gwen's sister and personal assistant, Kiki, to convince Gwen to come to the junket. Gwen's career and public image have been severely tarnished by her broken marriage, and the pair play on Gwen's ego by telling her she will look better to the press and her fans if she attends (and she will be able to serve Eddie with divorce papers in a neutral setting). Lee then bribes Eddie's spiritual guide to convince Eddie he is well enough to leave the retreat.
As the junket begins, tensions rise quickly between Eddie and Gwen. While they are frequently at each other's throats, Lee plants stories to convince the press that they are in the process of reconciling. Gwen encourages Kiki to be her go-between with Eddie, and as they spend more time together they begin to develop strong romantic feelings for each other. Hector, having seen the fake stories, believes that Eddie is trying to win back Gwen and they have a public confrontation in the hotel restaurant, ending with Eddie getting knocked out. A sympathetic Kiki cares for Eddie, and they spend the night together, having passionate sex. The following morning Kiki becomes enraged after Eddie drops everything to talk to Gwen when she asks to see him, and refuses to admit to being in any other relationships. He later regrets what he did in not stopping Gwen from manipulating the situation and admits to Lee. He also confesses that he's in love with Kiki and has always liked her for the selfless and kind person she is. Eddie believes it wouldn't matter because he lost his only chance and that he was never happy with Gwen. Feeling remorse for his part in the drama, Lee encourages him to tell Kiki and end his marriage to Gwen. Meanwhile, Weidmann arrives by helicopter with the finished film.
When the film is shown, the press, cast and crew discover that Weidmann junked the script for Time Over Time believing the movie script is terrible and made a "reality movie" instead. The footage, mostly shot with hidden cameras and without the actors' knowledge, shows Gwen as self-centered, conniving and manipulative, while Eddie is a decent man who becomes paranoid as he begins to suspect that his wife is having an affair. Eddie is portrayed as the protagonist, while Gwen is the main antagonist for her affair with Hector and Kiki is Eddie's love interest. The cast and crew—particularly Gwen and the studio's owner, Dave Kingman,—are offended by the direction that Weidmann went with instead of sticking to the movie's script and they confront him for it. Weidmann admits it was all his plans to humiliate Gwen and ruin her career for an earlier incident on set, while reviving Eddie's own. Enraged, Gwen announces she will sue Weidmann for both humiliating her and invasion of privacy, along with Kingman Studios for not preventing his actions. Eddie is the only cast member pleased with Weidmann's direction since the film characterized him favorably and wants to work with him again for another reality film project. Gwen's problems continue to compound when an angry Hector calls her out for both humiliating and insulting him in the film. The director's daughter, Leaf, comes to his defense and revealing that she also had an affair with Hector.
Humiliated by Weidmann and Hector's actions, Gwen tries to salvage the situation by announcing that she is reconciling with Eddie. Disillusioned with Gwen, Eddie announces that he is finally through with her, and declares his love for Kiki. She reciprocates and stands up to Gwen for the first time. Kiki reveals dirty secrets about Gwen's personal life that no one else except her knows including how much her sister has mistreated Eddie and herself. Kiki tells Gwen off that she's tired of putting her sister's career over her own personal life and is fired for it. After the junket Gwen admits to the press that she and Eddie are through, claiming she was having a reaction to medication. She tries to claim that she loves Hector and that he is well-endowed. However, their relationship is seen to be disintegrating in front of the press. Despite defending his case, Hector doesn't believe Gwen and is angered over her humiliating him that he announces that they're also over. Kiki and Eddie prepare to leave the hotel together. Lee tells Eddie and Kiki that because of the praise from the press, the studio is forced to release the reality movie. Moments after they leave, Lee gets jumped on by Gwen's dog.
- Julia Roberts as Kathleen "Kiki" Harrison
- Billy Crystal as Lee Phillips
- Catherine Zeta-Jones as Gwen Harrison
- John Cusack as Eddie Thomas
- Hank Azaria as Hector Gorgonzolas
- Stanley Tucci as Dave Kingman
- Christopher Walken as Hal Weidmann
- Alan Arkin as Wellness guide
- Seth Green as Danny Wax
- Scot Zeller as Davis
- Larry King as himself
- Steve Pink as Limo driver
- Rainn Wilson as Dave O'Hanlon
- Eric Balfour as Security guard
- Marty Belafsky as Security guard
- Keri Lynn Pratt as Leaf Weidmann
- Maria Canals as Adinah
- Byron Allen as Himself
Julia Roberts' niece, Emma Roberts, makes an uncredited appearance as the young girl in the purple T-shirt.
America's Sweethearts opened on July 20, 2001 and earned $30,181,877 in its opening weekend, ranking second behind Jurassic Park III ($50,771,645). By the end of its run, the film had grossed $93,607,673 in the domestic box office and $44,583,755 overseas for a worldwide total of $138,191,428. Based on a $46 million budget, the film was a box office success. Filming took place at Lake Las Vegas.
Despite being a box office success, the film holds a 32% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The site's consensus states: "Despite its famous cast, the movie lacks sympathetic characters and is only funny in spurts." On Metacritic, the film holds a 44 out of 100 rating based on 32 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
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- "America's Sweethearts (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. October 22, 2001. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for July 20-22, 2001". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. July 23, 2001. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "America's Sweethearts". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 27, 2014.
- "America's Sweethearts". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
- "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.