Monday, January 11, 2010

Movie Review: DId You Hear About the Morgans?

Did Your Hear About the Morgans? * 1/2
Directed By:
Marc Lawrence.
Written By: Marc Lawrence.
Starring: Hugh Grant (Paul), Sarah Jessica Parker (Meryl), Sam Elliot (Clay Wheeler), Mary Steenburgen (Emma Wheeler), Elisabeth Moss (Jackie), Jesse Liebman (Adam), Wilfred Brimley (Earl), Michael Kelly (Vincent).

Watching Did You Hear About the Morgans? I could not help but think of two films from Hollywood’s Golden Age - 1937’s The Awful Truth and 1940’s The Philadelphia Story. Both of those films, classic comedies with Cary Grant (opposite Irene Dunne in Awful Truth and Katherine Hepburn in Philadelphia Story) were about a divorced couple who realized they still loved each other. They were classic examples of the “comedy of remarriage”. Did You Hear About the Morgans does not hold up well next to those two classic films. I didn’t think of them because this film invokes those films, but because they did everything right that this film does wrong.

Paul (Hugh Grant) and Meryl (Sarah Jessica Parker) Morgan are high powered New York couple on the verge of divorce. They have been separated for three months following unsuccessful tries to get pregnant and a one night stand that Paul had on a business trip. Paul desperately wants Meryl back, and even convinces her to go on a date with him to try and fix their problems. But then things go wrong when they witness a murder, and have to go into the Witness Protection Program. They are sent to Ray, Wyoming to live with US Marshall Clay Wheeler (Sam Elliott) and his wife Emma (Mary Steenburgen). The small town is the complete opposite of everything they know. And they have no choice but to spend time together.

Grant is a master at the romantic comedy. In the past few years, he has been the male lead in a number of romcoms, and although none of them live up to those lofty heights set by those other films mentioned, but they have all been at least somewhat enjoyable. He delivers one liners better than just about anyone out there. I cannot help but find himself hilarious almost every time I see him on screen. He tries really hard in this film, but he has nothing to work to with in the screenplay. That at times he made me smile in the film is credit to him, and him alone. Parker, after years on Sex and the City, is now forever stuck as Carrie Bradshaw in my mind. To a certain extent, that’s what she is playing here, but once again she isn’t given much to work with.

The film was written and directed by Marc Lawrence, who has worked Grant twice before in Two Weeks Notice and Music and Lyrics. Those two films were enjoyable, and have moments that are absolutely hilarious. Did You Hear About the Morgans is no where near as good. In part, it’s because Grant and Parker have no chemistry together, but mainly because Lawrence never really thought through the screenplay. True, romantic comedies always have stupid plots, but the best ones are at least funny. And since Did You Hear About the Morgans fails that test.

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