|INTERACTIVE (Rate the Review)|
|Cinema Signal: Go! Strong appeal for all audiences|
Sing Like an American Idol, Women's Edition
Everything You Need to Sing the Hits!
(Discounted Paperback (with CD) from Amazon)
The first sighting of Sandra Bullock as forty-something Margaret Tate, book editor for a major publishing house in New York, is going to make the same impression on anyone who saw "The Devil Wears Prada" as Meryl Streep did. The charming and vulnerable Ms. Bullock has adopted a character that channels that fab lady in that surprise hit based on a boss only a polar bear could warm up to. The difference here, beside the setting, is how the office staff uses their network connections to warn each other of her arrival so that they can't be seen by her as slacking.
This stern lady's assistant is 30-ish male Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds, "X-Men, Origins: Wolverine"), which is another difference, and the gender differential seems to be part of the office master's personal code of superiority over her minions. But Andrew is a bit of a surprise because he's found a way to maintain a degree of self-respect under the boss's withering demands and tests. In fact, you can't help but silently cheer the guy as he just won't let her put him down too far nor too frequently. As for his manuscript that she won't give a nod to, well, that's a bitter pill he hopes someday to spit out. Little does he realize the headway he's about to make with his professional career.
But, she isn't fooling anyone. Mr. Gilbertson can read the situation clearly, thank you, and he demands that the pair return for a test of their knowledge of each other to prove the legitimacy of this quickly invented betrothal. Mr. Gilbertson makes it clear that they will be tested separately for their knowledge of each other, and the answers had better match up. So, if this is to fly, they've got a lot of catching up to do, across a major emotional divide.
This takes them to Sitka, Alaska, where Margaret makes a rather significant discovery about the man who's going to keep her in the USA--that he's from a very wealthy family. The Paxtons not only own every other vital store in the community but their hillside house is as big and fabulous as an embassy. Hmmm.
Not said, though intimated, is the more proper and expected bride for Andrew, his old high school and college girlfriend, Gertrude (Swedish Malin Akerman) who's been thinking the same thing.
By this time, the perfectionism of the office lord must be experiencing a modulation in her disposition if this comedy is going to go where we all want it to. Not saying that it does, but Margaret does seem to be folding in nicely with the family quirkiness even while maintaining that cool distance required of a marital arrangement.
The sublety of change is the charge of the actors, who are exceptionally good at this, of Peter Chiarelli who scripted this journey of mismatched emigres to the New York business life, and of director, ex-choreographer Anne Fletcher ("27 Dresses") who doesn't allow the progression to flag at any moment and puts in our theaters a delightful return of Ms. Bullock, a splendid showing of Ryan Reynolds' exquisite timing and quick-witted flexibility in balancing the dynamics of the situation (so glad it wasn't Matthew McConnaughy), and an overall very respectable variation in the genre.
In short, it works, it amuses, it satisfies. And, I can't remember the last time I said that about a romantic comedy.
~~ Jules Brenner