The real story is happening off screen.
Once upon a time, Eddie Thomas (John Cusack
) and Gwen Harris (Catherine Zeta Jones
) were the Hollywood Golden Couple. They starred in several schlocky but profitable romantic movies that propelled them to superstardom. They were America’s Sweethearts…
Until Gwen split…and took her new beau, Hector (Hank Azaria
) with her. The breakup caused Eddie to have a nervous breakdown and retreat to a wellness center in the mountains, where he’s been hiding from the outside world for a year.
Meanwhile, in a studio in the same town, Hollywood Executive David Kingman (Stanley Tucci) has called Lee Phillips (Billy Crystal
), Eddie and Gwen’s recently fired publicist, to view the stars’ last film. The problem, and it’s a biggie, is the eccentric director, Hal Weidmann, (Christopher Walken
) hasn’t sent it. And he’s not going to…at least not until the press junket.
Lee to the rescue as David promises him his job back if he can salvage this mess. Step number one: Reunite Eddie and Gwen, at least briefly, for the junket and distract the press from the missing movie by making them believe the once hot duo might get back together. To do this, he’ll recruit Gwen’s much put upon sister and assistant, Kiki (Julia Roberts
From there on it’s wooing the press, interview after interview, scandals involving cactuses, dodging questions about a film no one’s seen, Hector unexpectedly showing up…
And then there’s Kiki and her own feelings for Eddie. And those feelings could be mutual…if only he could stop obsessing over Gwen.
America's Sweethearts provides examples of:
- All-Star Cast: Julia Roberts may be the biggest name, but she's headlining a movie with Billy Crystal, John Cusack, Catherine Zeta Jones, and Christopher Walken. Also along for the ride are Stanley Tucci, Hank Azaria, Seth Green, and Alan Arkin.
- All There in the Manual / Word of God: It's never stated in the movie, but various sources say "Kiki" is short for "Kathleen."
- Alpha Bitch: It's implied that Gwen was one in high school with enough boyfriends to fill a phonebook. Kiki had to break up with them all.
- Analogy Backfire: One without the backfire actually pointed out but...Gwen, while delivering her usual BS to a member of the press, compares her relationship with Eddie to Sodom and Gomorrah. Oh really? The two cities God destroyed by raining down fire and brimstone to consume them? That Sodom and Gomorrah, Gwen? (Though given how badly her relationship ended, it may be more apt than she realizes.)
- Badass: Hector fancies himself one. He practices kickboxing, picks a fight with Eddie, and his dream role is to play a character like The Terminator.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Gwen to the movie going public. Kiki claims she had a "Miss Adorable Image" until her affair with Hector.
- The Cameo: Gwen loves Larry King. Spoiler, no she doesn't.
- Cassandra Truth: He fell into a cactus!
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: David. At the Hyatt bar after Eddie has just come out on the losing end of a brawl with Hector, David crows to Lee about all the success they've been having with the press. A tired Lee sarcastically suggests pushing Eddie into suicide. To which David says, "Imagine if he killed himself at the premiere." Seeing the look on Lee's face, he quickly tries to play it as a joke, but yeah. Not fooling anyone, Kingman.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Two Security Guards think Eddie is "whacking it" outside Gwen's cabin. See Cassandra Truth.
- Nice Character, Mean Actor: Gwen. To a T. She may play the gorgeous romantic lead on screen, but everybody around her, from her publicist to her lover, knows what a pain in the ass she is to deal with.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: This exchange between Lee (Billy Crystal) and Danny (Seth Green).
Lee: [on the phone] Hello, darling, can I get Holly Golightly's cottage, please? Thank you.
Danny: Who's Holly Golightly?
Lee: It's Gwen's code name. It's from "Breakfast at Tiffany's".
Danny: Oh. What's that?
Lee: It's a movie, a great movie. Hepburn?
Danny: Right. Katharine.
Lee: Let me tell you something. Don't tell anyone you're in the movie business. Okay? Thank you.
- Prima Donna Director: Hal Weidmann. He frustrates the living hell out of David but he's got the Oscars to back him up. He's also very eccentric, using the Unabomber's cabin as an office and holding Eddie and Gwen's final film hostage. When the film is finally shown in front of the press, it turns out he threw away the script, instead opting to film his actors and crew in secret, casting Gwen in a very bad light. When the lights go up, David is humiliated, Gwen is threatening legal action, and Eddie is already making plans to work with Hal again.
- Recycled In SPACE: In universe example. Some newscaster comments that Eddie and Gwen's film, Time After Time, is a remake of Cool Hand Luke. Dude, are you blind? The movie or the movie they were supposed to make is so obviously Terminator with Nazis.
- Spoiled Brat: Gwen. She's whiny, self absorbed, neurotic, and incredibly fake in front of the press.
- Survival Mantra: When Eddie gets stressed or frustrated, he chants his to keep from knocking heads. Said mantra is listing all the things he's grateful for, like the cool breeze, the warm sun, etc. Leads to a Crowning Momentof Heartwarming at the end when he realizes the thing he's most grateful for is Kiki.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Eddie doesn't know that Kiki is the woman by the pool because he didn't see the trailer for this thing.
- Troubled Production / What Could Have Been: Billy Crystal actually first wrote this film during the 90's, and was going to star as Eddie. For reasons unknown, Crystal couldn't get the film greenlit until 2000. Joe Roth ended up directing and suggested Crystal was now too old for the part of Eddie, and suggested he play Lee. The role of Gwen was originally offered to Julia Roberts, but she asked for the role of Kiki instead. Robert Downey Jr. was originally cast as Eddie, but he eventually had to back out.