Sandra Bullock plays Margaret Tate, a domineering (and very bitchy) Canadian woman who works as an executive editor for a publishing company and treats pretty much everyone around her like crap—especially her assistant, Andrew Paxton (played by Ryan Reynolds). Eventually, Margaret learns that she's in danger of being deported back to Canada due to violating the terms of her work visa.
To fix this, Margaret lies by claiming that she and Andrew are engaged to get married and are planning on flying out to Alaska for his grandmother's 90th-birthday to tell the rest of his family. Andrew, of course, vehemently tries backing out of the plan, but Margaret insists that they'll be married for a short while and then get a divorce—Andrew ultimately agrees to it after he makes her promise to publish his book and promote him.
The two fly out to Alaska and Margaret meets Andrew's family—over the course of their time in Alaska, the two slowly get to know each better and ultimately end up falling in love (for real).
Tropes included in this movie:
- Accidental Pervert: Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock Accidentally wind up naked and on top of each other. She was making a nude run for the wardrobe and he was... good at timing (who takes off their clothes to listen to music while standing up?). They're both not looking and walk into each other at a fast pace with the response "Oh my god, why are you naked?" "Why are you wet?!"
- "I don't understand!"
- Artistic License Law: The consequences for admitting that you intend to go through with a sham marriage to obtain US citizenship, as Margaret does near the end of the film, would not have the results depicted in the film. In actuality you would be arrested the minute you admitted it, and at best case you'd be driven to the nearest airport, put on the next plane back to your home country, and barred from ever entering the United States again for the rest of your life. Worst case, you'd be jailed for up to eight years, then deported.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Andrew and Margaret have this between them pretty much through the entire trip to Alaska.
- Between My Legs: This perspective is used when Margaret is trying to get the dog to go away.
- Big Fancy House: Due to Andrew being Secretly Wealthy, the Paxton family home in Sitka is one.
- Butt-Monkey: Ryan Reynolds in this trailer.
- California Doubling: Though set in Sitka, Alaska, the filming actually took place in Massachusetts.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Andrew finally snaps and addresses his father's disapproval of him working at a publishing firm. Their differences are only resolved once his grandmother Gammy fakes a heart attack and makes them reconcile.
- Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Andrew and Margaret.
- Chick Flick: Although luckily the film focuses more on humor than the general mushy stuff.
- Citizenship Marriage: The entire plot of the film.
- Cool Old Lady: Andrew's grandmother, Gammy. Then again, it's Betty White so that's a given.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Margaret.
- Fanservice: Ryan Reynolds—naked. Sandra Bullock—naked. A good time is had by all.
- Funny Foreigner: Ramone.
- Hand-or-Object Underwear: When Margaret comes out of the shower and gets pestered by the dog. A wonderful subversion occurs when she literally runs into Andrew and they manage to censor each others' body parts with one another.
- Hilarious Outtakes: On the DVD, plus a special feature in which Betty White treats Ryan Reynolds like shit but no one will believe him when he tries to tell them about it. Has to be seen to be believed.
- Hollywood Heart Attack: Subverted. It was faked.
- The Illegal: Ramone might be one based on the answers he gives in his questioning during the end credits.
- Intimate Healing: The realistic keep-warm kind.
- Irony: The film stars Sandra Bullock as a Canadian businesswoman who tries to get a Citizenship Marriage with her assistant played by Ryan Reynolds. In real life, Bullock is American and Reynolds is Canadian.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Margaret ultimately reveals that the wedding is a sham and leaves to pack up her office and be deported. Andrew of course flies back to New York to stop her and tell her that he loves her.
- Jerkass: Andrew's Dad for most of the film and the immigration agent for all of it.
- Mama Bear: Andrew's mom verbally bitchslaps his father for upsetting him and demands that he fix it.
- Marriage Before Romance: Margaret makes Andrew marry her to avoid being deported to Canada. After pretending to friends, family and the INS, they're exposed... only to have him propose so that he they can date.
- Mistress and Servant Boy: Andrew and Margaret at the start of the story, although he takes more initiative once he realizes the leverage he now has over her.
- Mr. Fanservice: It's Ryan Reynolds.
- Naked People Are Funny
- Percussive Therapy: Andrew carving out a canoe shows his mother that his father upset him.
- Race for Your Love
- Raging Stiffie: Andrew's morning wood.Margaret: Oh my god what is that?!
Andrew: What?! It's...it's morning!
- Rom Com: Shows the usual classic form of boy and girl hate each other, get closer together, almost get together, break up, and then get back together permanently.
- Secretly Wealthy: After arriving in Alaska to see Andrew's family, Sandra discovers that the Paxtons are actually very wealthy—they even own most of the shops in Sitka.
- Sexy Mentor: Andrew doesn't acknowledge Margaret as such until their professional relationship is interrupted - see Mistress and Servant Boy - but of course it's part of the premise.
- Shirtless Scene: Or in this case, shirtless and pantless scene for both Reynolds and Bullock.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Andrew and Margaret.
- Suggestive Collision: Margaret makes a nude run for the wardrobe from the shower. Andrew is also naked, getting ready to take a shower of his own. Neither is looking and they walk into each other at a fast pace. He ends up on top for her:Margaret: Oh my God! Why are you naked?Andrew: Why are you wet?
- There Is Only One Bed: Justified, as Andrew's family fully expect Margaret and him to sleep together. He takes the floor.
- Tranquil Fury: Andrew is very calm whenever he's angered, which shows when he's speaking to his father.
- Wakeup Makeup: Played with. Margaret wakes before Andrew and applies makeup to her lips as well as fixing her hair and even gently slapping her cheeks to liven up her face. When Andrew wakes up and joins her in the bed to keep up appearances, he asks if she's wearing makeup, believing she had just woken up as well. She replies, "Of course not."
- Waxing Lyrical: Margaret joins Andrew's grandma in a dance around the fire. She asks for a "song from the heart". Margaret starts singing Lil Jon's "Get Low".Andrew: Whatcha doin'?
Margaret: Oh, uh, uh..you know you G-Gammy wanted me to, uh..you know..chant-chant from the heart.
Andrew: Balls? That's what came to your heart?
Margaret: You know, it, uh, went-went with the beat.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Andrew and his father.