Before watching the movie:
Despite both of them having a good track record in romantic comedies, I would never have thought to pair Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock. However, it makes perfect sense to set up a chalk and cheese couple, which are in fact a staple of romantic comedies.
It’s interesting that this movie appears to start from a position of realizing their relationship needs to either improve or end, which is usually the crisis point of the plot. I’m picturing something close to a plot where the bad boyfriend who’s usually there to get dumped in favor of the love interest, tries to reform into the love interest.
After watching the movie:
Lucy Kelson is an activist lawyer, as likely to organize a protest rally as file a suit in her fight against injustices. While crusading to save a historic Coney Island community center, planned to be demolished as an eyesore for a planned luxury condo tower nearby, she charges up to George Wade of the Wade Corporation development group, one of the bidders for the building contract, to make her argument, which among other things, includes a guarantee that she can get Wade the job in exchange for an agreement to spare the community center. Her eloquence and skill impress George, whose brother and senior partner Howard has demanded he get a real legal counsel this time and not another mistress to payroll. George offers Lucy the position, noting that not only will he spare and work around the community center in return, but the job also comes with full control over Wade Corporation’s pro bono legal budget. After some handwringing over this deal with the devil, Lucy accepts. Unfortunately, George quickly comes to rely upon her for every decision except legal matters, at all times of day and night, and after several months of this, Lucy resigns, which George reluctantly accepts, only on the condition she locate and train her own replacement. Only now that the process of separation has begun, they find that perhaps neither one of them can stand to see the other go.
I thought this story was going to avoid the stable, boring current partner that needs to be dumped for the romantic interest, but interestingly, Lucy does have a current partner that exits in the third act. Only he never actually appears because he’s always on a boat somewhere in another part of the world, and we only hear of their breakup after the fact.
I came into the story expecting her resignation to be the inciting action, but it’s actually more of the turn into the second act. I probably could’ve enjoyed an entire movie of the misadventures of falling in love with a clueless and needy boss, but they only really start to notice each other as people when they begin to disentangle as coworkers. Which is also enjoyable, just in a way that leaves an obvious joint.
Despite doing some unusual turns on tropes, this is a fairly standard romantic comedy. Witty things get said, arguments are had, feelings get developed, hidden, and revealed, and ultimately, the formula plays out in the manner the audience is accustomed to, and an hour and a half is passed in fun but not very distinctive storytelling.
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