Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock: Speed, Miss Congenality) is an out of work attorney who stages protests on her free time as a liberal. She approaches aristocrat George Wade (Hugh Grant: About a Boy, Love Actually) begging him not to tear down a local community center. He becomes instantly impressed with her and hires her as his assistant. She agrees reluctantly but has no idea what she’s in for. Soon the two begin to realize that their partnership has gone beyond the workplace and realize they may have feelings for one another. There have been hundreds of romantic comedies released over the years from the excellent (An Affair to Remember, Annie Hall, Barefoot in the Pak), to the average (Wedding Planner), to the utterly awful (Maid in Manhattan), romantic comedies are a staple of cinema that will never go away.
Hugh Grant has made a basic career of starring in romantic comedies, and regardless of how he manages to save the film, this can’t withstand the utter pits of romantic comedy trash. The film presents your usual cliché, and utterly predictable storyline and sentiment that is evident right at the beginning of the film. I still can’t understand why director Marc Lawrence felt it was important to include a photo montage of the two lead actors right at the opening credits. It seems like a desperate attempt to tug at audiences heartstrings immediately, making it feel tried as if we’re in for something utterly terrible. The storyline is completely predictable and becomes an inevitable cookie cutter romantic comedy. There’s your usual generic tale of a girl who’s either lonely or anti-social, who by some odd event, gets involved with a suave upper class man.
The two either don’t like each other, or take time to cozy with one another, something happens when they realize they love each other, an obstacle enters the scene in the form of a person, and in the end love conquers all. Ho-Hum. But the film tends to handle it well up until the point where it reaches desperation resorting to unnecessary bathroom humor and physical comedy. There’s this inane segment involving tennis and a character being bludgeoned by a tennis ball, and then there’s a tacked on sequence involving Bullock’s character having to go to the bathroom. While she’s suffering, the traffic comes to a stand still blocking their escape and Grant’s character carries Bullock to an RV conveniently placed on the road. What makes this worse an experience is that the director feels it necessary to place black blotches on Bullock’s butt showing waste stains, and then finishes the miserable sequence with sounds of her moaning aloud to a spastic disposal of bodily wastes.
Wow, were they stretching for the comedy, and it failed to work because all it managed to invoke from me were expressions of disgust rather than a genuine laugh. The beautiful Alicia Witt (Urban Legend) is wasted in the film with a character that feels completely tacked on and completely awkward within the storyline and characters. She’s the obligatory villain in the film providing an obstacle for the potential love reunion between the two title characters, but all her scenes feel so generic within the film, and she unfortunately feels out of place. The ending relies on a pure approach of sap with the ending of the two characters re-uniting, blah, blah. I just thank goodness that there wasn’t a scene involving the two kissing while a crowd looks on cheering. Gag me.