Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant rough it this week as they head off to Wyoming to escape a contract killer in the romantic comedy Did You Hear About the Morgans? They’re only supposed to be in this isolated part of the country for one week at the most, but for the audience, it feels like five years.
- Director/Writer: Marc Lawrence
- Executive Producer: Ryan Kavanaugh
- Starring: Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Elisabeth Moss, Mary Steenburgen and Sam Elliot
A well-to-do Manhattan couple, Meryl and Paul Morgan of the title played by Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica-Parker, are in the midst of a three-month separation when they spot one of Meryl’s real estate clients stabbed to death on his balcony. Witnessing the crime sends the Morgans into the witness protection program and off to rural Ray, Wyoming to hide out until the police can bring in the murderer. Will the bickering couple be able to survive the nothingness of Wyoming? And will they be able to repair their nearly hopeless marriage? Will the audience even care by the time the movie is over?
- Supporting Actors: Several of the actors in the smaller parts (Sam Elliot, Elisabeth Moss, Seth Gilliam, Wilford Brimley) deliver very competent performances that allow their characters to rise beyond the incompetent script. Well, barely…
- Marshal Ferber: The extremely minor character, portrayed by Steven Boyer, delivers the only actual laughs of the entire movie with his impish creepiness at the start of the film.
- Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Mailmen: You can’t really blame the actors for their performances in this movie, because their acting drew attention to the fact that they weren’t within miles of the set at any point. So blame the US Post Office for delivering these mailed-in performances.
- The Attempts at Comedy: There simply isn’t a joke in this movie that hasn’t already been in another. Anytime a premise for a joke arises the punchline is delivered in the viewer’s internal monologue with an external eye roll. To call this movie predictable would be an understatement – you can recite each line before it’s said.
- The Morgans: The two main characters are extremely unlikable. Both are self-absorbed without any trace of an attractive personality. Yes, this could simply be the fault of Grant and Parker’s mailmen, but it’s also the writer’s fault. Clearly no time was spent painting any sort of three-dimensional characters the actors could portray. Instead they are simply mouthpieces for a few bickering lines and revelations about why the couple separated in the first place that feel like they were inserted while filming was in progress. If we’re expected to care if the main characters in the movie are ever going to reconcile, it might be nice give us some characters with an ounce of depth or pathos.
Did You Hear About the Morgans? is as generic as generic romantic comedies get. We know the ending as soon as the movie starts, can see the potential obstacles and twists coming miles down the road, and have seen every joke before in one way or another. But it’s more than just a re-hashing of what we’ve already seen, it’s a lazy dawdling film without an apparent goal or any respect for its audience.
Exposition is both rushed and labored as bits of the backstory are slathered on like mayonnaise on a cheap deli sandwich while other parts fly by like a jackrabbit, the chemistry between Grant and Parker is completely non-existent, and many of the larger set pieces are filmed with the aplomb and skill of somebody directing a Lifetime Movie for the paycheck. There simply isn’t a moment in this movie that doesn’t seem like it was thrown in at the last second. We’re given two-dozen reasons for the couple’s split – none that seem plausible or raise the already low stakes at all, and each joke falls flatter than a months-old can of soda.
Ultimately, you’ll spend the entire movie wishing the contract killer had connected with his balcony-shot bullets at the beginning of the film.