Coarse, cliched and clunky, this trifling romantic comedy in which opposites attract for no better reason than that the screenplay demands it squanders the charms of stars Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock. Neo-hippie lawyer Lucy Kelson (Bullock) has devoted her life to lost causes, most recently trying to save an old movie theater in her native Coney Island,...read more
Coarse, cliched and clunky, this trifling romantic comedy in which opposites attract for no better reason than that the screenplay demands it squanders the charms of stars Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock. Neo-hippie lawyer Lucy Kelson (Bullock) has devoted her life to lost causes, most recently trying to save an old movie theater in her native Coney Island, N.Y. It falls to the wrecking ball despite Lucy's best efforts, and the neighborhood community center is slated to be the next sacrifice to the greed of a real-estate development monolith called the Wade Corporation. So Lucy waylays George Wade (Grant), the company's smoothly mediagenic public face, intending to shame him into seeing things her way. She instead finds herself with a new job as the company's chief counsel, persuaded by Wade's glib assurances that she can do more good working within the system than against it. Like generations of idealists before her, Lucy quickly learns that the system is far tougher than she is. Worse, she inadvertently makes herself indispensable to her feckless boss, who's soon relying equally on her ability to file a top-notch environmental impact report and to select the perfect suit-and-tie combination for any occasion. Frustrated and afraid she's selling out to the Man, Lucy nevertheless develops a certain sneaking affection for her playboy boss; George-the-man, meanwhile, grows quite fond of his flinty new hire, perhaps the only women who's ever failed to fall madly in love with his big bucks. When, a good two-thirds of the way through the film, Lucy finally gives her two-weeks' notice, George forces her to stay until she's found a satisfactory replacement. Can the madcap heir and the working girl see past their superficial differences long enough to fall in love? That's not a question, of course the question is how many banana peels director/screenwriter Marc Lawrence can scatter on the path of true love before they take a pratfall into each other's arms. The answer is, surprisingly few, and they're all so pathetically contrived that he might as well not have bothered. The extended toilet joke whose payoff finds Lucy having a bowel movement so explosive that it frightens children is mortifying, as is the sequence in which George's brother (David Haig) mistakenly thinks he's caught the pair engaging in oral sex in the men's toilet. There's no quicker way to deflate romantic fancy than to smear it with vulgarity.