Did You Hear About the Morgans?
In these troubling times of global warming, financial crises and that nice Tiger Woods cheating on his wife, it’s comforting to know that one man alone remains staid and unchangeable: Hugh Grant. Yes, say what you want about the fact that he’s pretty much played the same character for the past 20 years, but goddammit, the man does it well. And let’s face it, watching posh men bumble and stammer through awkward social and emotional situations never gets old. The possibilities are endless! Posh man attempts to woo adored movie star who wanders into his bookstore, posh man accidentally marries into mob family, posh man falls in love with own secretary – oh, the amusing cinematic moments we’ve all enjoyed at Hugh’s expense. Luckily, his latest frothy outing with toast-of-New-York Sarah Jessica Parker is no exception – this time, a posh man is heading into the wilds of the American midwest after he and his estranged wife witness a murder and must be relocated into a protection scheme. And yes, there’s just as many laughs – albeit slightly predictable ones – as always.
Home on the Range
Grant plays Paul Morgan, a high-flying expat lawyer living in New York, who’s been recently (and reluctantly) separated from his wife Meryl (Parker) after she discovered his infidelity on a business trip. On the way home from a rather frosty attempted reconciliation dinner, the couple witness the murder of a local baddie and are quickly spirited away to witness protection in Hicksville (aka Ray, Wyoming, apparently). Cue more awkward situations for poor old Hugh to bumble through with Parker in tow, as they attempt to assimilate with their wood-choppin’, stallion-ridin’ Maw-and-Paw host and hostess (Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen), the wide-eyed town doctor and his bimbo secretary (David Call and Kim Shaw), and the scene-stealing Wilford Brimley as the local diner owner. Will they be able to resist the call of civilisation and keep their cover up long enough to avoid the baddies? Will the charming old world values of their new digs allow them to reignite the flame of their relationship? Yes, we know, the suspense is killing you.
Oh, Hugh, You Old Dog
You don’t go and see a movie like this for the intelligent plot twists and meaty characterisation, and veteran rom-com writer/director Marc Lawrence (Music and Lyrics, Miss Congeniality) knows it. Lawrence has written for Grant several times before, and he obviously knows what to do to make his star generate the laughs, because Grant is at his hilariously uncomfortable best in this film, bouncing off his co-stars with ease. The same can’t be said for Parker though – she looks more than a bit stiff and is relegated to a two-dimensional version of her much-loved Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw, minus the likeability. The chemistry between her and Grant misses believable by a long shot.
There’s no two ways about it – good ol’ dependable Hugh carries this film. If you’re a fan of his, Did You Hear About the Morgans? will be a fun-filled 90 minutes spent chuckling into your popcorn. If not, maybe give it a miss until you’re feeling particularly uninspired at Blockbuster in six months’ time.