You’d just wish that grizzly bear would maul them all, so you could go home
Writer-director Marc Lawrence's latest exercise in rom-com banality, Did You Hear About The Morgans?, stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant as Meryl and Paul Morgan, a recently separated couple thrown into the witness protection programme after observing a murder in New York.
The pair are flown to Wyoming, where they are to live in a wooden cabin with a local police officer and his wife (Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen). It's no Manhattan; there are grizzly bears, only a dozen or so Democrats in town and the most expensive sweater on the high street costs less than $20.
It’s particularly bad news for Meryl, who had thrown herself into her thriving property business before separating from her philandering, cheating husband. However, in a town with only one restaurant and a house full to the brim with John Wayne DVDs, Paul has ample time, and opportunity, to win his wife back.
As with Lawrence's Two Weeks Notice the only vaguely likable element of this film is Grant. Although his performance is no revelation he lifts the quality of every scene in which he features, preventing the movie’s otherwise depressing downward slide into the risible. This is partly because he is clearly ad-libbing many of his lines, although this only works to an extent as when he’s not ad-libbing you unfortunately remember how repulsive his character is.
It’s hard to say what constitutes the most unlikeable aspect of the movie. It could be the character of Meryl, a truly irritating and unsympathetic cross between Sex and the City’s high-flying central female characters and the quirky neuroses of Annie Hall. Or it could be Sarah Jessica Parker’s stylist, who really must not like the actress. Alternatively, there’s a lot to dislike in the by-the-numbers narrative or the sinking feeling that hits you every time Sam Elliott turns up on screen, squandering his easy charm and comic timing on a truly unfunny script.
Whichever way you cut it, Did You Hear About the Morgans? is hollow, synthetic and ugly. It’s the cinematic equivalent of throwing buckets of money at a house with no foundations. The worst thing is, and sadly for cinema, this house shows no sign of falling down any time soon.
Sarah Jessica Parker as a neurotic New Yorker and Hugh Grant as an upper class Englishman. What? This is a new movie?
Oh, Hugh Grant has made a funny! Oh, wait, there’s Mary Steenburgen again.
You’d just wish that grizzly bear would maul them all, so you could go home.