Driven editor Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the terror of her publishing company. While her minions cower in their cubicles, her every need is tended to by her browbeaten assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). When she finds out that she’s about to get deported back to Canada, her whole future is in jeopardy.
Her solution? Marry her assistant! If they’re married, Margaret can stay in the country until her visa issues are fixed, at which point they can divorce and go their separate ways. At first, he’s resistant, but then he negotiates a promotion in return for his compliance, and it’s a deal. Unfortunately what seems like a fool-proof plan hits a few kinks when the INS agent sees right through their scheme, and the two have to prove their love or face serious legal consequences.
So then of course it’s time to meet Andrew’s family in small-town Alaska, where she and Andrew make up over-the-top proposal stories and are forced to awkwardly kiss by his eccentric grandmother, played to the hilt by Hollywood legend Betty White. As Margaret gets to know Andrew and his family better, what started as a mutually beneficial business arrangement turns into something more.
The movie has a slow start, due in part to the actors playing against their strengths, with funny-girl Bullock playing a humorless harridan and the ebullient Reynolds playing the subservient put-upon assistant. That being said, nobody plays awkward like these two, and once they both loosen up a little the laughs don’t stop.
Where this movie succeeds is in the chemistry between Reynolds and Bullock and their arguments are fun to watch, as are their attempts at normal couple behavior. This film is also extremely adept at taking an awkward moment to the point at which it is incredibly uncomfortable and ridiculous, and then going that extra step that makes it all funny again.
At times, though, the main stars are overshadowed by the supporting cast. While Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson are quietly engaging as Andrew’s parents, Betty White steals every scene she’s in, which isn’t always a good thing– as evidenced by the super-special “Indian chanting” scene, which was only saved by one of the more creative uses in film of Lil’ Jon’s “Get Low”.
Similarly, Oscar Nunez’s scenes go from fantastic (his “exotic dancer” scene with Sandra Bullock was hilariously uncomfortable) to why-is-he-even-in-this-movie, as he is apparently the only other person of consequence living on the island (he’s the waiter, the stripper, the grocery store owner, and the preacher), and some of his scenes go on way longer than they probably should.
While on the surface this movie is very much romantic-comedy-by-numbers (the quirky family, the tearful confession, the frenzied race to the airport), and while the ending is pretty predictable, stellar performances by everyone involved make this an enjoyable watch this summer.