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dir Anne Fletcher
scr Peter Chiarell
with Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T Nelson, Denis O'Hare, Malin Akerman, Oscar Nuñez, Aasif Mandvi, Michael Mosley, Dale Place, Michael Nouri
release US 19.Jun.09, UK 22.Jul.09
09/US Touchstone 1h47
Man Friday: Bullock and Reynolds
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
As brightly enjoyable as this film is, there's no escaping the fact that it's yet another formulaic rom-com. Bullock and Reynolds have enough chemistry to keep us smiling, even though we never buy it for a second.
Margaret (Bullock) is a ruthless editor in New York whose efficient assistant Andrew (Reynolds) can't stand her. But when Margaret finds out she's being deported back to her native Canada, she talks Andrew into marrying her. To convince the probing immigration agent (O'Hare), she accompanies Andrew home to see his parents (Steenburgen and Nelson) in Alaska. And over the course of the weekend, their plan begins unravel even as they begin to see each other as humans for a change.
The screenplay tries to mix things up with Andrew's school sweetheart (Akerman), who lurks quietly around the edge of the film waiting for her moment. And there's also the father-son tension between Andrew and his dad, nicely played by both Reynolds and Nelson as something a bit harsher than we usually see in these kinds of movies. Meanwhile, White does her usual enjoyable shtick as Andrew's sassy granny, and Steenburgen holds things together with a solid supporting turn.
But what holds our interest is the banter between Bullock and Reynolds, who have a terrific off-handed prickliness that plays extremely well on-screen and even works in the more emotional screens. They actually make us believe that these two control freaks are actually falling for each other, although calling it love seems a bit of a stretch. At least watching them is great fun, especially when Bullock indulges in some nicely staged slapstick.
Otherwise, we have lots of gorgeous Alaskan scenery and a couple of terrific set pieces, including a zany naked encounter and a surreal incident with the fluffy family dog. But the filmmakers seem to rely so much on their stars that they pretty much ignore the sideplots, never making anything of the love triangle or O'Hare's smarmy agent. Instead, they give extra screen time to the oh-so-goofy Ramone (Nuñez), who's only funny because he keeps showing up. But he does add a deranged touch, and never manages to steal a scene from our heroes.
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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