Romantic comedies, especially those aimed at the lonely-gooey-hearts out there, rarely find a warm reception from me. Although I must profess that those starring Hugh Grant (Notting Hill, About a Boy, Bridget Jones) do set my steel-reinforced heart just a wee bit aflutter. So, I shuffled into Did You Hear About the Morgans? clutching an embarrassingly large bag of confectionary and shreds of hopeful expectation. Alas, if was not to be – the film was absolutely dismal. And Grant was just an ungracefully aging chap who delivered poorly written lines with about as much gusto as custard (the ones that come out of a box and have 0% eggs).
So let’s start with the predictably predictable plot. A New Yorker couple, estranged after an account of infidelity – and no surprises as to who violated their wedding vows, find themselves in a rut. Lawyer Paul Morgan (Hugh Grant) is desperately trying to win back his sunny real-estate mogul Meryl (Sarah Jessica Parker). After a begrudging dinner the two find themselves the witnesses to a murder, placed on witness protection and shipped off to Wyoming in the protective custody of the horse-shoe-throwing county sheriff Clay Wheeler (Sam Elliot) and his pro-gun-anti-vegetarian wife/deputy sheriff Emma (Mary Steenburger). Tempers flare and relationships are reforged. Blah blah blah. You know the ending before you even make it through the first 20 minutes – but I suppose that’s the crux of any rom-com.
Sometimes, weak plots can be salvaged by some very well written characters. This film is not one of those sometimes. The characters are Styrofoam and tremendously boring to watch. From a kindly but near mute sherrif to the intellectually handicapped nurse/doctor duo, this film leaves much to be wanted. Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex in the City) can normally be depended upon for her deliciously rumbustious curls and timely delivery of punchlines. In this film, everything about her is flat; hair, dialogue, quirk-o-meter reading. Everything! Admittedly, the chemistry between Grant and SJP was passable, but they seemed from like bed-buddies than a real couple. Essentially, the film and its characters were fake. And not even cleverly fake. It was as if the writer (Marc Lawrence) ran out of Ritalin and was writing to meet a deadline. The same could be said for the music and camera work. There was no innovation or attempts to stamp on clichés. If anything, cliché was the staple of the entire film.
My advice? Watch the preview. It’s got pretty much all the best bits (humour, Hugh Grant with sexy-uber-textured hair, and grizzly bears) and you don’t need to sit through the agonizing hours of clichéd banter (if it even deserves such a title) and blandness. And to all the romantics out there, please don’t amass outside my house with pitchforks and torches. I don’t entirely dislike rom-coms (I happened to highly prize Bridget Jones and all her chimney-pot smoking and simultaneous attempts to wax lower appendages). But this movie, is plain crass.