by Rick Grant
Grade: B / Rated PG-13 / 96 min
The premise of this movie is as predictable however the clever script by Peter Chiarelli, and its execution by a stellar cast, make the movie quite enjoyable and funny. Veteran actress, Betty White steals her scenes as the nutty 89 year-old Grace Paxton.
Sandra Bullock co-stars as bitchy editor, Margaret Tate and Ryan Reynolds portrays her personal assistant Andrew Paxton at a big time publishing house. They couldn’t have less in common. In fact, Andrew loathes her and calls her names in Tweets to other employees behind her back.
When it is discovered that Margaret, who is from Canada, let her Visa expire and didn’t tell the publisher, she gets a notice that she is being deported and will lose her job. In a quick thinking brainstorm, Margaret summons Andrew into the room and declares that the deportation is moot, she and Andrew are engaged to be married. Andrew plays along and plots to use this huge favor to get a promotion.
At the immigration office the suspicious officials don’t believe they are in love and she is just marrying Andrew to stay in the country. So, they tell the INS that they are traveling to Alaska to meet Andrew’s parents, the Paxton clan, and will announce their engagement there. The official warns them that if the marriage is a sham, they could go to jail for fraud. So, Margaret and Andrew have to convince him that the marriage is for real. He tells them he will be watching to detect any hint of impropriety.
Directed by Anne Fletcher with tight pacing and creative scene-craft. Sandra Bullock is very adept at acting in these romantic comedies. She can portray a wide range of emotions. Ryan Reynolds has come a long way from his past work. His striking good looks and talent will take him into the realm of leading man movie star. He plays Andrew with just the right amount of cynicism and real emotion. And, remarkably, Reynolds’ landed Scarlett Johansson as his wife. Imagine what their kids will look like.
Of course, viewers will know where this story is going, but it’s fun getting there as Margaret’s first shock is finding out that Andrew’s family, the Paxtons, are filthy rich and live on a multi-million dollar estate. Then his family members are so nice to her, she begins to feel guilty about their sham marriage. Andrew’s dad can’t believe he is getting married to this woman, with whom he doesn’t seem to have anything in common. Nonetheless, the family accepts her.
Over the course of Margaret’s visit with the Paxton’s, she begins to change. She never had the family support that Andrew had, and she has a catharsis of conscience. Bullock’s skill at changing emotions on cue is uncanny, which makes her the perfect actress for these roles.
What the couple didn’t count on was the immigration official showing up at the Paxton’s estate. He tells the father, Joe, played by Craig T. Nelson, the details of Margaret’s immigration status. So this starts Margaret on a downward spiral.
Even though the viewer is not surprised by the outcome of the movie, the acting and directing are so well done it doesn’t matter. It’s a great feel good romantic comedy for these troubling times. It’s always comforting to see beautiful people on the big screen acting out dramedy with enlightened verve. Viewers walk out of the theater with smiles on their faces. And that’s why we go to the movies.
by Rick Grant