Movie Reviews

Sweet Home Alabama: 10 Perfect Recasting Choices

Almost 20 years ago, in the fall of 2002, the now-defunct Buena Vista Pictures released the movie Sweet Home Alabama. The romantic comedy, led by Reese Witherspoon, follows newly engaged fashion designer Melanie as she returns to her hometown in Alabama to finalize the divorce from her first husband, Jake.

The beloved rom-com features a stacked cast including Patrick Dempsey, Candice Bergen and Jean Smart. While its charismatic ensemble is one of the main reasons why the movie works so well, it would be fascinating to imagine what the cast of Sweet Home Alabama would look like today if it were made in 2022.

Melanie made a name for herself as a sophisticated New York designer, but unbeknownst to everyone, including her dashing fiancé Andrew, she’s actually a country girl from Alabama. Reese Witherspoon is gives vivacious performance as Melanie, using her talent to craft a relatable and engaging character.

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Lili Reinhart is best known for her role as Betty Cooper in the CW drama, Riverdale, but it’s her performances in films like Miss Stevens and Hustlers that truly showcase the young actor’s impressive range. Her sweet demeanor coupled with her impressive comedic chops makes her a perfect choice for Melanie.

Jake might be rough-around-the-edges, but his enduring love for Melanie transcends his grumpy exterior. Josh Lucas’ portrayal of Jake brings a level of magnetism to the role, crafting a performance that leads to some pretty undeniable chemistry between himself and Witherspoon.

After dazzling the masses as the Duke of Hastings in Bridgerton, Regé-Jean Page decided to depart the extremely popular Netflix series after season one to pursue a career in film. Not only would Sweet Home Alabama be a great way for Page to show off his underrated comedic side, but also his experience playing the romantic lead would make his casting a no brainer.

Andrew Hennings is the debonair son of the mayor of New York. He’s suave, refined, and head-over-heels for Melanie. Patrick Dempsey not only perfectly embodies the grace and charisma of an East coast socialite, but his considerate manner makes for a compelling choice for Witherspoon’s Melanie.

Henry Golding is no stranger to playing the dashing son of a powerful woman. Crazy, Rich, Asians not only brought Golding to mainstream audiences, but the film is widely considered as one of the best romantic comedies of the decade. Golding has proven that he is at his best when he plays to his strengths as a charismatic romantic lead and to see him in a remake of Sweet Home Alabama would be another wonderful addition to his oeuvre.

Disapproving of her son’s proposal to Melanie, Mayor Hennings sets out to dig up dirt and put a stop to the impending nuptials. Multi Emmy-winner Candace Bergen does an unsurprisingly impeccable job playing the deliciously conniving state official.

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Most recently, TheBook of Boba Fett actor gave a hilarious turn as a recurring character on Hacks where she played an unapologetically vicious talent agent, proving that Ming-Na Wen is fantastic at playing bad. Wen would also be a wonderful way to update the role for modern audiences.

Jean Smart’s role as Jake’s bar-owning mother might be a relatively small, but Smart’s performance is so full of energy that the character leaves a lasting impression. Stella also has a pivotal moment in the climax of the film that leads to Melanie and Jake’s happy ending.

Angela Bassett is a force of nature on screen, commanding the attention of any scene she is in. From Boyz N The Hood to Black Panther (both considered Bassett’s best movies), she has proven to a performer unlike any other. Only her star power and effervescent persona could make the role of Stella a much more powerful presence in the film.

Lurlynn is one of the many colorful townspeople that Melanie reconnects with after coming back home. Lurlynn is a minimal role, but the criminally underrated Melanie Lynsky brings a heartwarmingly naïve take on the character, making her a standout.

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Beanie Feldstein would be a perfect choice to fill in Lynsky’s shoes, as the young actor has proven to enchant audiences with her endearing charisma. The talented comedienne is known for her sidesplitting performances in beloved comedies like Lady Bird and Booksmart.

Earl Smooter is Melanie’s gruff father who spends is free time as a Civil War reenactor. A champion for Jake, he tries his hardest to mend the broken relationship. Portrayed by the late Fred Ward, Earl is an old-school austere dad with a heart of gold.

As one of the most recognizable voices in Hollywood, Matthew McConaughey’s southern drawl would be on full display as Earl. His loveable and infectious on-screen presence would be a wonderful addition to the cast. McConaughey’s dramatic work also showcases the versatility the actor has which is needed for the role.

When Melanie’s mother, Pearl, hears of the engagement, she is one of the only people that believes Andrew is the right choice. Mary Kay Place does a superb job conveying the complexities that come with raising a child and supporting their decisions.

Christina Hendricks first gained mass attention as Joan on the hit drama series Mad Men. However, it was the actress’s recent work in the fan-favorite show Good Girls that showed the dynamic range Hendricks possesses. Not only is she familiar with playing a struggling mother, her mesmerizing and caring attention she brings to each role would make her casting as Pearl a perfect fit.

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