Sweet Home Alabama (film)

Sweet Home Alabama is a 2002 American romantic comedy film directed by Andy Tennant and starring Reese Witherspoon, Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Fred Ward, Mary Kay Place, Jean Smart, and Candice Bergen. It was released in the United States on September 27, 2002, by Buena Vista Pictures. The film takes its title from the 1974 Lynyrd Skynyrd song of the same name.

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


On a beach in the fictional town of Pigeon Creek, Alabama, 10-year-olds Jake Perry and Melanie Smooter inspect the result of lightning striking sand. Jake asserts that they will be married one day.

In the present day, Melanie is a successful New York fashion designer who has adopted the surname "Carmichael" to hide her poor Southern roots. After wealthy Andrew Hennings proposes, Melanie returns to Alabama to announce her engagement to her parents and finalize a divorce from her husband Jake, whom she married as a pregnant teenager and left after she miscarried their baby. Meanwhile, Kate Hennings, Andrew's mother and the Mayor of New York City, doubts Melanie's suitability to wed her son, whom she is grooming to run for President of the United States.

Melanie visits Jake, who has repeatedly refused to sign divorce papers over the years since Melanie left for New York. After Jake orders Melanie out of his house, Melanie empties Jake's checking account, hoping to spur him into ending the marriage. Jake is angry and leaves to meet some friends at a local bar without signing the papers. Melanie follows and gets drunk, insults her old school friends, and outs her longtime friend, Bobby Ray. Jake scolds her and takes her home, preventing her from driving drunk, and Melanie wakes to find the signed divorce papers on her bed.

Melanie goes to the Carmichael plantation and apologizes to Bobby Ray, whose family lives there. She is cornered there by Kate's assistant, sent there to gather information on Melanie's background. Bobby Ray backs up her pretense that she is a relative and the family mansion is her childhood home. Melanie reconciles with her friends and learns that after she split with Jake, he had followed her to New York to win her back. Intimidated by the city and her success, he returned home to make something of himself first. She and Jake have a heart-to-heart talk, and Melanie understands why he never signed their divorce papers.

Andrew arrives to surprise Melanie, but upon learning her true background and that she never told him she was married, he angrily leaves. He later returns, saying he still wants to marry Melanie, and the wedding is immediately set in motion. Melanie's New York friends arrive for the event. While visiting a nearby restaurant/resort with a glassblowing gallery, they admire the glass sculptures that are similar to ones they have seen in New York. Melanie realizes Jake is the artist and that he owns the resort.

During Melanie and Andrew's wedding at the Carmichael estate, a lawyer arrives and halts the ceremony. He has the divorce papers, which Melanie never signed. Melanie confesses that she still loves Jake and cancels the wedding. She and Andrew wish each other well, though Kate berates Andrew and insults Melanie, her family, and the entire town, for which Melanie punches her in the face. Melanie finds Jake at the beach planting lightning rods in the sand during a rainstorm to create more glass sculptures. She says they are still married. They return to what would have been Melanie and Andrew's reception, and finally, have their first dance as husband and wife.

A mid-credits sequence shows that they have a baby daughter, Melanie continues to thrive as a designer, and Jake opens a "Deep South Glass" franchise in New York. Andrew is engaged to 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 allowed to film at Tiffany's since Breakfast at Tiffany's (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, which first appeared on their second album, Second Helping (1974).[2][3]


Critical responseEdit

This film received mostly mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a critical score of 38% based on 159 reviews, with an average rating of 5.19/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Reese Witherspoon is charming enough, but the road to Alabama is well-traveled."[4] At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 45 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[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 performanceEdit

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]

Awards and accoladesEdit

Association Category Recipient Result Ref(s)
BMI Film & Television Award BMI Film Music Award George Fenton Won
GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Film — Wide Release Sweet Home Alabama 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 [8]
Choice Movie Actress – Comedy Reese Witherspoon Nominated [9]
Choice Movie Villain Candice Bergen Nominated [9]
Choice Movie Liplock Reese Witherspoon & Josh Lucas Won [8]


Sweet Home Alabama (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), the film soundtrack, includes thirteen songs by different artists.[10]

1."Sweet Home Alabama"Gary Rossington, Ronnie Van Zant, Edward KingJewel3:43
2."Mine All Mine"Kristyn Osborn, Hollie PooleSHeDAISY3:55
3."Falling Down"Avril Lavigne, David Alspach, Lauren Christy, Graham EdwardsAvril Lavigne3:54
4."Gonna Make You Love Me"Ryan AdamsRyan Adams2:36
5."To Think I Used to Love You (DJ Homicide Remix)"Uncle KrackerUncle Kracker3:26
6."Keep Your Hands to Yourself"Daniel J. BairdThe Calling3:06
7."Bring On the Day"Amy Powers, Jeffrey C.J. VanstonCharlotte Martin4:33
8."Long Gone Lonesome Blues"Hank WilliamsSheryl Crow2:55
9."You Got Me"Jason ChainJason Chain3:44
10."Now That I Know"Eric Bazilian, Shannon McNallyShannon McNally4:44
11."Marry Me"Dolly PartonDolly Parton3:15
12."Weekend Song"Matt Cantor, Pete Chill, Aston Harvey, Tenor FlyFreestylers3:58
13."Felony Melanie - Sweet Home Alabama Suite (Score)"George FentonGeorge Fenton5:02
Total length:48:51

See alsoEdit

  • 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. ^ "7 Things You Didn't Know About Sweet Home Alabama". www.fame10.com.
  3. ^ Feiwell, Jill (October 24, 2001). "Katherine Towne". Variety.
  4. ^ "Sweet Home Alabama (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  5. ^ "Sweet Home Alabama Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Sweet Home Alabama". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  7. ^ "Review: Sweet Home Alabama". February 12, 2007. Archived from the original on February 12, 2007.
  8. ^ a b "2003 Teen Choice Winners Announced". Hollywood.com. June 7, 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2022.
  9. ^ a b "2003 Teen Choice Awards Nominees". Billboard. June 18, 2003. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  10. ^ "Various - Sweet Home Alabama (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) on Apple Music". iTunes. Retrieved 1 January 2002.

External linksEdit