Maybe there's a reason people who live in provinces are called
provincial. Perhaps they expect a "Citizen Kane" or a "Godfather"
every time they step into a theater. Great movies are few and far
between, and about the best you can usually hope for is a
coherent tale told in an entertaining way.
And that "Two If By Sea" certainly is. I give it 9 out of 10 for its
hilarity, subtle performances, niceness, great scenery, and overall
execution. It's a warm movie filled with lots of really zingy little
funnies. It never strays far from its agreeable theme of true love,
and when it does it takes delightful tangents into: pure slapstick
goofiness, devastatingly piercing pricking of the neuveau riche,
adolescence, and even the plight of the city dweller who thinks
he's "out in the country" (as when a terrified Leary draws a .38 on a
tame deer). You have to admire a director who can take as many
potshots at life as "Airplane!" does, and still stay within the context
of a story as cohesive as this one is.
Actually this is one of Denis Leary's finest hours. He portrays a
guy who gets along in life by being tough and irascible, although at
heart he's hard pressed to cope with the world in general and
completely confused by love. Sure his character comes across as
grating -- it's supposed to. But if you can't see past the facade to
the nice guy underneath, you're not much of a moviegoer.
To his excellent work the director adds Sandra Bullock's character,
who is just enough not satisfied with a simple, linear life to throw
Leary into one tailspin after another. Their chemistry is often
prickly, but always centered around the movie's core theme. And it
takes real talent to portray her part with the touch of frustration she
has, without coming across as a bitch. Bullock impressed me by
achieving just the right tone.
And in the end, what more could you want? The good guys all find
ways to win and the bad guy loses his claim to fame and goes
down in flame, blame and shame. Whoooeee!