By Sandra Kraisirideja
Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker are starring in a new movie together, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone since the pairing screams “romantic comedy gold mine!”
Alas, the two don’t have great chemistry and the premise for “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” is unoriginal. Grant and Parker play Paul and Meryl Morgan, a high-powered New York couple—she’s in real estate, he’s a lawyer–who have been separated since slept with another woman. Of course Paul is trying desperately to reconcile their marriage and after dinner one night the pair witness the murder of an arms dealer who was working with the Feds. Since the killer is still on the loose the Morgans are swept up into protective custody and flown to Ray, Wyoming where they meet a cast of characters taken right out of a Hicks R Us catalog.
Unfortunately, Mary Steenburgen and Sam Elliott play two of the cookie cutter characters, the local sheriffs who also happen to be married and are assigned to watch the Morgans during their stay. Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men” has a supporting role as Parker’s tightly wound assistant. It appears ever since “The Devil Wears Prada” did wonders for Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt’s careers, being cast as an assistant to a well-known actress is a way to build ones career. Unfortunately for Moss, “Did You Hear About the Morgans” lacks the same writing as “The Devil Wears Prada,” so her acting talent is wasted and her performance will largely be forgotten.
Once in Ray, Wyoming the movie’s humor takes on a predictable progression of jokes that take advantage of the Morgans “fish out of water” predicament. The comedy relies too much on stereotypes and assumptions about the differences between living in the country and being from an urban city.
Writer-director Marc Lawrence began his collaboration with Grant on “Two Weeks Notice” and they last worked together on “Music and Lyrics.” Obviously Grant trusts Lawrence to create projects that capitalize on his audience appeal. There’s not much substance to Lawrence’s script and much of the dialogue is forgettable.
Grant and Parker are capable actors but their performances in this movie seem automatic and half-hearted. Their fans may show up the first weekend, but the movie will lack good word-of-mouth to keep it afloat during the holiday season.