Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joe Roth|
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Cinematography||Phedon Papamichael Jr.|
|Edited by||Stephen A. Rotter|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$138.3 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 Time Over Time, an upcoming movie featuring husband-and-wife stars Gwen Harrison and Eddie Thomas. His job is complicated by the film's eccentric director Hal Weidmann, who refuses to show anyone the film until its premiere at a press junket. Worse, Gwen and Eddie, once "America's Sweethearts", are going through an ugly split. Gwen's affair with co-star Hector Gorgonzolas, who she now lives with, drives Eddie to an emotional breakdown; Eddie's actions lead Gwen to file a restraining order against him, and he moves to a New Age retreat. Lee decides his best chance to promote the film is to convince the press the couple have reunited.
Lee enlists the help of Gwen's sister and personal assistant, Kiki, and they persuade Gwen that her tarnished career and public image will benefit if she attends the junket, where she will also be able to serve Eddie divorce papers. Lee bribes Eddie's spiritual guide to convince Eddie he is well enough to attend.
At the junket, while Eddie and Gwen are at each other's throats, Lee plants stories to convince the press the couple are reconciling. Gwen encourages Kiki to be her go-between with Eddie; as they spend time together, Kiki and Eddie begin to develop feelings for each other. Hector believes the fake stories that Eddie is trying to win back Gwen, and a public confrontation ends with Eddie knocked unconscious. Kiki tends to Eddie, and they have passionate sex. In the morning, Kiki is furious when Eddie drops everything to talk to Gwen and refuses to admit to being in any other relationship. Regretful, Eddie confesses to Lee that he is in love with Kiki and believes he has lost his only chance with her. Feeling remorse for his role in the drama, Lee encourages Eddie to tell Kiki and end his marriage to Gwen. Weidmann arrives by helicopter with the finished film.
The screening begins, and the press, cast, and crew discover that Weidmann abandoned the script 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 and becomes paranoid as he suspects his wife is having an affair. Gwen is portrayed as the main antagonist with Hector as her lackey. Kiki is presented as an overweight assistant and Eddie's love interest. The cast and crew -- particularly Gwen and the studio's owner, Dave Kingman -- are offended and confront Weidmann. He announced that he did this as part of his plans to ruin her career after an incident she caused on set when she talked negatively about his previous work. Gwen announces she will sue Weidmann for embarrassing her and invading her privacy, along with Kingman Studios for having not prevented this. Only Eddie is pleased with Weidmann's film, and they agree to work together again. Kiki is also pleased with his direction since the film portrayed her correctly in being stressed out by Gwen and her drama. The angry Hector calls out Gwen for demeaning him in the film. Leaf, Weidmann's daughter, comes to Hector's defense and reveals they had an affair for the past two years.
Humiliated, Gwen tries to salvage the situation by announcing she is reconciling with Eddie. He asserts he is finally through with her, and declares his love for Kiki, who reciprocates and stands up to Gwen for the first time. She reveals to everyone Gwen's dirty secrets and mistreatment Eddie and herself were both put through that no one knew about. Kiki tells her off that she is tired of putting her sister's career over her own personal life and wants to be left alone. Gwen tells her that she is fired and will find herself another assistant. After the junket, she admits to the press that she and Eddie are through, blaming her behavior on medication, tries to claim that she loves Hector and that the things she said in the film were false. However, no one believes a word Gwen says and notices that their relationship is disintegrating. Hector embarrasses her in front of the press by telling her that they're over and he never loved her. As Kiki and Eddie prepare to leave together, Lee tells them that the press' positive response has forced the studio to release the film. After they leave, Lee is jumped on by Gwen's dog.
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 from 146 critics. 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.