It's not that I approve of Jules' actions in My Best Friend's Wedding, but I get it. Unrequited, deeply-felt love for a friend is a powerful force. As played by '90s rom-com queen Julia Roberts, My Best Friend's Wedding 's Jules acts questionably, becoming an unconventional rom-com heroine who has noble intentions, yet flawed — scratch that — deeply flawed — execution. For that reason, on the occasion of My Best Friend's Wedding's 20th anniversary, I think it's high time I try to exonerate Jules of her rom-com crimes.
A quick refresher on My Best Friend's Wedding, in case you haven't see the movie since it was first released in the summer of '97. Jules and Michael have been best friends since they were kids. Through every high and low, these two pals have stuck by each other's side. While telling her co-worker, George, about their history, Jules mentions that she and Michael made a pact to marry one another if they were still single at 28. Now, at 27, believing they're both single and realizing she may actually be in love with her best friend, Jules tries to make things happen with Michael. However, when she calls him to profess her feelings, he tells her that he's getting married in four days and could she come to Chicago to be by his side during this exciting time? Woah.
All of Michael emotionally manipulative malarkey aside (and trust me, there's plenty of it), Jules' actions as she gets reeled into the four day-long wedding proceedings are kind of understandable. I mean, if you were in the love bubble for 9 years, wouldn't you want to subtly undermine his fiancée by making her sing in a karaoke bar? It's a harmless enough and it's one of the more defensible things Jules does to break up Michael and Kimberly, in my opinion.
From there, Jules only get more manic as her behavior escalates in her quest to stop this wedding from happening. But it still makes sense and it's still pretty harmless. She lets Michael think that she's engaged to George and she plays mind games with Kimberly so that Kimberly can discourage Michael from making her leave college after they get married. OK, that second one is a bit morally dubious behavior, but I would argue that Jules — an independent career woman herself — did this on Kimberly's behalf because she wouldn't want someone to put their entire life on hold for a guy.
Perhaps the one truly indefensible and destructive thing Jules does is when she acts like Kimberly's father, writes an e-mail to Michael's boss and implores him to fire Michael, and then kinda rolls along with the fallout, which includes Michael trying to call of the wedding. That is some bananas behavior that not even the reason of being madly in love with someone could excuse.
It's important to remember that My Best Friend's Wedding also makes it clear that Jules isn't a total villain through its depiction of Jules and Kimberly's relationship. Jules seems to like mentoring Kimberly, trading insider info about how to deal with Michael's quirks, and even seems somewhat genuine in her encouragement of Kimberly staying in school. The film makes it clear that she doesn't wish ill for Kimberly either; she just want Kimberly to go find her crème brulée so she and Michael can be in Jell-O love together. I believe that if My Best Friend's Wedding wanted to make Jules a more loathsome character, it could have and truly pitting her against Kimberly would have been the way to do it.
But alas, My Best Friend's Wedding makes a slightly more interesting argument in favor of examining what love does to a woman who is, by all accounts, a poster girl for third wave feminism. Erasing that rational line between platonic and romantic love for a woman who has an avowed disinterest in heteronormative living makes for an interesting subversion of rom-com stereotypes.
Jules is undone by the idea that the one man she truly connects with wouldn't want to marry her, hence the superficially reproachable actions. But there's a relatability to Jules' quest to proclaim her love and reclaim Michael (if you're able to empathize with her and understand that the one man who makes her less cynical about love could be gone forever). Maybe it's just me who can relate to that, I don't know. But it's a hell of a notion.
For all of Jules' flaws, she makes My Best Friend's Wedding as fun to watch now as it was to watch in 2017. Do you, Jules; I'm still rooting for you.