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TWO IF BY SEA. Directed by Bill Bennett; written by Denis Leary and Mike Armstrong; produced by James G. Robinson for Morgan Creek. Starring Sandra Bullock and Denis Leary. Rated R.


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Two If by Sea looks like the kind of romantic comedy that Bullock was so successful with in While You Were Sleeping. And I think that's what they were trying for. It just didn't quite make it.

Bullock is as cute as ever, but her character here is a little unfocused and contradictory. And Leary doesn't get to do what he does best—rant and rave, in comedic fashion—often enough.

Frank (Leary) and Roz (Bullock) are two Bostonites who are in a long-term, deadend relationship and who also happen to be on the run from the law. Frank has pinched a valuable painting and they have to keep it and themselves on ice for a couple of days. Two if by Sea sinks before he can unload it.

They find a conveniently empty palatial vacation home off Rhode Island to wait in. (The movie was filmed in Nova Scotia, Canada, and the scenery is definitely one of its strongest points.)

Roz doesn't approve of the larceny, supposedly, but doesn't ever seem to take the sensible way out of the situation and just leave, either. She does, however, start spending time with a friendly neighbor (Stephen Dillane).

There isn't much suspense as to what's going to happen, either with the painting or with Roz and Frank's relationship. But that's not always a bad thing in a romantic comedy. It's just that Two If by Sea doesn't give us much to keep us interested along the way. In fact, some odd camera work that the director inexplicably engages in from time to time is downright distracting.

One element that is above average, however, is the score. Irish traditional musician Paddy Moloney is one of the composers and the background music has a nice Celtic lilt to it that fits the seaside locale, but makes you wish the movie had a little more spirit.

February 7, 1996

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