A young woman hides the secret of her family's mob connections from her straight auctioneer boyfriend.
Precisely how long audiences will continue to be won over by Hugh Grant's grand coiffure and calculated script-fumbling remains uncertain, but this film aims to bank on his trademark charm while the ruse lasts.
Returning to the New York locale of Extreme Measures, Grant swaps scalpel for gavel as Michael Felgate who, in between fielding bids for distinguished auction house Cromwells, is summoning up the courage to propose to schoolteacher Gina Vitale (Tripplehorn). Who freaks. Not because she's unwilling, but because - unknown to Michael - her 'family' isn't exactly your common or garden variety, with dad Frank (Caan) a prominent member of the Graziosi crime organisation. Still, blood's thicker than water, especially when it's spreading slowly across the floor.
From this swiftly worked premise spins an escalating comic farce, handled well for the most part by fledgling feature director Makin. As MichaelÆs vow to remain unsullied falters with a reluctant favour for Uncle Vito (Young), Grant enjoys a couple of showcase set pieces, the standout being a scene in which he creates the fictional titular gangster to impress two rival heavies.
An excellent Caan offers more than cliche or caricature as Frank - who's father first, mobster second - and with Tripplehorn a delightful watch too (on any level), the trio succeed in the key task of making you care about their predicament. So the comedy becomes engaging, not just a series of pratfalls, while also tempered as too knockabout or frivolous by Young's menacing turn as the Graziosi boss.
It won't change the world perhaps, but this rather adept and well-played nonsense really ought to be the rom-com standard, and not the dreadful, zipless pap that's normally inflicted upon us.