Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

St. Petersburg Times Online

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'Alabama' is unusual: a worthwhile movie

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Read Billy's movie reviews on his special archive page.

© St. Petersburg Times
published September 30, 2002

Movie: Sweet Home Alabama

  • Rating: PG-13

Summary: Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) is a top fashion designer in New York City, and she has just gotten engaged to the mayor's son. First, she has some loose ends to tie up in her Alabama hometown before they can proceed with the marriage. What she has neglected to tell her fiance, Andrew (Patrick Dempsey), is that she is already married -- to her first love, Jake Perry (Josh Lucas), who has never signed their divorce papers.

When Melanie returns to Alabama, she's met by a somewhat unwelcoming crowd. She had never realized just how many bridges she had burned before she left seven years ago. When she finally goes to Jake's house to get the papers signed, her intentions of getting in and out in about 5 minutes are quickly shot down. Jake is not quite as eager to go along with her plan. Over the course of a week, they begin to feel something between them again, and Melanie questions her decision to marry Andrew.

My View: I'm happy to report that we finally have a worthwhile film on our hands. It's nice to have a movie with a combination of good acting, good story and noncorny humor for a change.

Because she is from Nashville, Witherspoon had no problem reverting to her Southern roots for the role; she's sweet and believable. The supporting actors, especially Candice Bergen as the mayor, are a plus.

Favorite Part/Recommendations: The previews led me to believe this was going to be a "chick flick," but this movie will attract a much wider audience. This is a fairly mild PG-13, but younger kids won't be interested.

Grade: B+

- Billy Norris, 14, is in the ninth grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

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