There are more possible story arcs for a romantic comedy than the standard boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl … but not many. One of them is boy and girl hate each other (or are simply wildly incompatible), boy and girl are thrown together in a comic situation, boy and girl fall in love. I’ll bet you’ve seen a hundred of them. This doesn’t have to be bad. There are very few original story ideas out there (sometimes I’m tempted to say there are none), most good stories are variations on old themes. Thus, when you know you’ve seen this story before, you can only be wooed if the new iteration brings something charming to the table. Lee and I liked Forget Paris and Fever Pitch, one because it found a fresh way to tell the story, the other because it just all seemed to click. (I’m talking about boy meets girl, etc.) This movie has quite a few funny moments, good lines, good situations. It also has some that hit the ground and just lie there, flopping awkwardly, even embarrassingly. Dead fish moments. Trying too hard for a cheap laugh. On balance, we had a good time, but it was a near thing.
This movie is a variation on Green Card. Sandra Bullock is a Canadian working as a ruthless, relentless, hated book editor in New York. She is so arrogant that she neglects to keep her visa affairs in order—no one could possibly give me any trouble; I’m too valuable!—and suddenly finds she is about to be deported for at least a year. Solution: Marry her harried and abused assistant. But an immigration dick is onto their scam and they might be in big trouble. Then it’s off to Sitka, Alaska (which is actually Gloucester, Massachusetts and Newport, Rhode Island, and ain’t movie-making wonderful?), to meet the folks. The set-up is funnier than the payoff, though there are some good moments at the parents’ house.