Did You Hear About the Morgans?, the latest romantic comedy from director Marc Lawrence purports to be one of those cutesy, funny things happen when two people are put into foreign or uncomfortable positions kind of films. It succeeds in putting its stars Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker in stupid situations. It fails miserably, however, at making them funny in any way, shape or form.
Which for the most part is a bit of surprise to me as Marc Lawrence has a relatively good track record of rom-coms behind him — Music and Lyrics and Miss Congeniality, good; Two Weeks Notice, not so good. So assuming he knows more often than not what he is doing, I have to ask him, “In what world does telegraphing every plot sequence or dropping heard before one-liners equal charming or funny?” I suspect the Bizarro World. I would have expected him to insist on a screenplay cleanup but then I recalled he was the screenwriter too . . .
Anywho, seeing as he and the actors in Did You Hear About the Morgans? went through the paces, so shall I. A married Manhattan power couple, Paul and Meryl Morgan (Grant and Parker), witness a murder. Said murderer knows who they are. Whisked away under the Witness Protection Program to Rae, Wyoming, Paul and Meryl suddenly find themselves completely out of their element — people wear cowboy hats, carry guns and attend things like the rodeo for fun. Oh my goodness! Playing babysitter for the dysfunctional Morgans is the local sheriff Clay (Sam Elliott) and his wife Emma (Mary Steenburgen). Lucky them.
So while they’re in the middle of rural hell, the thin as a wafer script calls for the bickering and separated Morgans to rekindle their love through a host of contrived and “so far outlandish that it is impossible to believe” set pieces. Yet no matter how ridiculously improbable a situation they find themselves in, you know precisely how each scene is going to end practically before it starts! So when all combined, the entire film is entirely predictable from beginning to end — exactly what you should want to pay for!
Perhaps the biggest kick in the groin though, is the absence of any chemistry whatsoever between Paul and Meryl. Plot stupidity and inconsistency can be overlooked if the match between leads and/or characters is good. She is a self-absorbed, materialistic and annoying bitch — the kind of woman who should never be married (hell, if I was Grant’s character, I’d have cheated on her too). His character, for lack of a better word, is just a plain old asshole. Not even Grant’s boyish charm, a staple of his that he’s built his career upon, can add any luster to this jerk. When combined, they mix into something that closely resembles sludge.
Did You Hear About the Morgans? I have, and wish to hell I hadn’t.