Sweet Home Alabama (film)

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Sweet Home Alabama
Sweet Home Alabama film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAndy Tennant
Produced byNeal H. Moritz
Screenplay byC. Jay Cox
Story byDouglas J. Eboch
Music byGeorge Fenton
CinematographyAndrew Dunn
Edited byTroy Takaki
Tracey Wadmore-Smith
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • September 27, 2002 (2002-09-27)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million[1]
Box office$180.6 million[1]

Sweet Home Alabama is a 2002 American romantic comedy film directed by Andy Tennant and starring Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey and Candice Bergen. The film was released by Touchstone Pictures on September 27, 2002. The film takes its title from the Lynyrd Skynyrd song of the same name.


On an Alabama beach, 10 year olds Jake Perry and Melanie Smooter inspect the result of sand struck by lightning. Jake asserts that they will be married one day.

In the present day, Melanie is a successful fashion designer. She has adopted the surname "Carmichael" to hide her poor Southern roots. Engaged to Andrew Hennings, Melanie goes alone to Alabama to tell her parents and to procure a divorce from her estranged husband Jake. Kate, Andrew's mother and the Mayor of New York, expresses doubt that Melanie is good enough for her son, whom she is grooming to run for President of the United States. Melanie asks Jake why he keeps returning the divorce papers unsigned. He orders her out of his house. Melanie announces her engagement.

Melanie empties out Jake's checking account, hoping to spur Jake to sign the papers. He says he will sign the papers in the morning. Melanie gets drunk and insults her childhood friends, and outs a mutual friend, Bobby Ray Bailey. The next morning the divorce papers are on her bed signed by Jake.

Melanie visits the Carmichael plantation to apologize to Bobby Ray, where she is cornered by the mayor's assistant sent to gather information on her background. Bobby Ray backs up her pretense that this is her childhood home. Melanie reconciles with her friends and learns that Jake followed her to New York to win her back but, intimidated by the city, returned home to make something of himself first. Jake finds Melanie in a graveyard and they have a heart to heart, and Melanie realizes why Jake never signed the divorce papers.

Andrew arrives to surprise Melanie, and Jake takes him to a Civil War reenactment where Melanie is with her father. Melanie tells Andrew that Jake is her former husband. Andrew realizes that Melanie has lied to him about who she really is and leaves, but soon appears at Melanie's parents' house admitting he still wants to marry her. Melanie's New York friends arrive for the wedding and browse at a glassblower whose work they have admired in New York, only to realize it is Jake.

Melanie's lawyer interrupts the wedding with the divorce papers that Melanie herself has not signed. Melanie hesitates, realizing her love for Jake. She wishes Andrew luck, and he wishes her well in return. Andrew's mother berates him, verbally attacks Melanie and insults the town. She calls Melanie's mother trailer trash, for which Melanie punches her in the jaw, to the cheers of the crowd.

Melanie, in her wedding gown in the rain, finds Jake planting lightning rods in the beach to create more sand sculptures. She tells him they are still married, and as they kiss, sheriff Wade "arrests" them and takes them to Jake's mother's bar where their friends and family are waiting. They finally get their first dance as husband and wife, to the tune of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama." A mid-credits sequence shows that they have a daughter, Melanie continues to thrive as a designer and Jake opens a "Deep South Glass" franchise in New York. Andrew is engaged to marry a girl named Erin Vanderbilt.




Charlize Theron was considered for the lead role before Reese Witherspoon was cast.

Katherine Towne was cast as Witherspoon's character's assistant who ultimately ends up marrying the Patrick Dempsey character, but all other scenes were dropped in the final cut.


Although centered in a fictional version of the town of Pigeon Creek, near a fictional version of Greenville, Alabama, the film was mostly shot in Georgia. The Carmichael Plantation, which Melanie tells the reporter is her childhood home, is the Oak Hill Berry Museum, a historic landmark in Georgia which is on the campus of Berry College in Rome, Georgia.

Sweet Home Alabama was the first film allowed to shoot in New York City after the September 11, 2001 attacks. It was also the first film ever allowed to film in Tiffany’s since Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961.

The streets and storefronts of Crawfordville, Georgia were used as the backdrop for the Catfish Festival and other downtown scenes. The coonhound cemetery was on Moore Street in Crawfordville, and the bar was located at Heavy's Barbecue near the town. Glass that forms when lightning hits sand, as in the film, is called fulgurite.

Jake's glassblowing shop was filmed at an old mill, named Starr's Mill, in Fayette County, Georgia. Wynn's Pond in Sharpsburg, Georgia is the location where Jake lands his plane. The historic homes shown at Melanie's return to Pigeon Creek were shot in Eufaula, Alabama.

The film title and theme song lyrics are from the "Sweet Home Alabama" song by Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, that first appeared in 1974 on their second album, Second Helping.[2][3][4]


Critical response[edit]

This film received mostly mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, 38% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 157 reviews. A critics consensus reads: "Reese Witherspoon is charming enough, but the road to Alabama is well-traveled."[5]

Roger Ebert, critic for the Chicago Sun Times, awarded it three-out-of-four stars, commenting, "It is a fantasy, a sweet, light-hearted fairy tale with Reese Witherspoon at its center. She is as lovable as Doris Day would have been in this role... So I enjoyed Witherspoon and the local color, but I am so very tired of the underlying premise."[6]

Andrew Sarris, critic for the New York Observer, said that the movie "Would be an unendurable viewing experience for this ultra-provincial New Yorker if 26-year-old Reese Witherspoon were not on hand to inject her pure fantasy character, Melanie Carmichael, with a massive infusion of old-fashioned Hollywood magic."[7]

Box office performance[edit]

The film grossed over US$35 million in its first weekend. By the end of its run in the United States, Sweet Home Alabama grossed over US$130 million, and another US$53,399,006 internationally. With a reported budget of US$30 million, it was a box office hit, despite the mixed reviews.[1]


The film won the following awards:[8][better source needed]

Association Category Recipient Result
BMI Film & Television Award BMI Film Music Award George Fenton Won
GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Film—Wide Release Sweet Home Alabama Nominated
Golden Trailer Award Best Romance Secretary Nominated
Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Award Best Contemporary Hair Styling—Feature Anne Morgan Nominated
MTV Movie + TV Award Best Female Performance Reese Witherspoon Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie: Comedy Sweet Home Alabama Won
Choice Movie: Comedy Actress Reese Witherspoon Nominated
Choice Movie: Villain Candice Bergen Nominated
Choice Movie: Liplock Reese Witherspoon & Josh Lucas Won


Sweet Home Alabama (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), the film soundtrack, includes thirteen songs by different artists.[9]

1."Sweet Home Alabama"Gary Rossington, Ronnie Van Zant, Edward King3:43
2."Mine All Mine"Kristyn Osborn, Hollie Poole3:55
3."Falling Down"Avril Lavigne, David Alspach, Lauren Christy, Graham Edwards3:54
4."Gonna Make You Love Me"Ryan Adams2:36
5."To Think I Used to Love You (DJ Homicide Remix)"Uncle Kracker3:26
6."Keep Your Hands to Yourself"Daniel J. Baird3:06
7."Bring On the Day"Amy Powers, Jeffrey C.J. Vanston4:33
8."Long Gone Lonesome Blues"Hank Williams2:55
9."You Got Me"Jason Chain3:44
10."Now That I Know"Eric Bazilian, Shannon McNally4:44
11."Marry Me"Dolly Parton3:15
12."Weekend Song"Matt Cantor, Pete Chill, Aston Harvey, Tenor Fly3:58
13."Felony Melanie - Sweet Home Alabama Suite (Score)" 5:02

See also[edit]

  • The Judge—a 2014 film with a similar plot of a protagonist with a successful big city career drawn back to an old hometown.
  • Middle America


  1. ^ a b c "Sweet Home Alabama (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
  2. ^ https://www.fame10.com/entertainment/7-things-you-didnt-know-about-sweet-home-alabama/
  3. ^ https://variety.com/2001/scene/people-news/katherine-towne-1117854784/
  4. ^ "Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2016-07-03.
  5. ^ "Sweet Home Alabama". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Sweet Home Alabama". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  7. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20070212133303/http://www.reelviews.net/movies/s/sweet_home.html
  8. ^ "Sweet Home Alabama". Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  9. ^ "Various - Sweet Home Alabama (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) on Apple Music". iTunes. Retrieved 1 January 2002.

External links[edit]