Despite a deep-rooted dislike of the top two billed stars, the promotion for this leading up to its eventual theater release looked too funny to ignore... so I didn’t.
The Morgans are the perfect powerhouse couple. Or they were before a three-month separation. Both successful New Yorkers, Paul (Hugh Grant) is still madly in love with his wife, making him most anxious to resolve their differences – and at all costs avoid divorce. Currently he is showering his wife with gifts (his latest being couples counseling), knowing the fault of her disillusionment is his. Meryl (Sarah Jessica Parker) isn’t so gullible. A real-estate agent who owns her own company, she is overwhelmed with Paul’s brand of apology and in an effort to sort out her feelings agrees to have an impromptu dinner with him. Walking together for her meeting with a client, they witness his murder! This leaves them as the star FBI witnesses following the killers escape – right after he sees their faces. Surrounded by FBI and police, the Morgan’s discover this murder was mixed up with the mob and the following morning, an attempt is made on Meryl’s life, prompting the authorities to hastily place them in protective custody… in Wyoming.
Mixing a little bit of every genre with a whole lot of humor, this is actually a lot better than it would lead its audience to assume. If looking at just the premise, the movie will likely turn many of potential viewers away, but somehow the story just “works” without being terribly repetitious. That’s not to say that there isn’t still the standard share of sappy moments, the better points just act as a “cover” for most of them. It isn’t so much the characters that make this entertaining (in fact more often than not, they’re way annoying) but the filmmaking and screenplay, which most the time is actually witty, without progressing into a complete wash of cheekiness that just makes us want to exclaim “yeah, saw that one coming!” The humor refrains from becoming crude and while we may tire of Paul’s continuous incoherent jokes, it’s always pleasant to enjoy something that can make us laugh minus the vulgarity.
Ever since seeing him in Sense & Sensibility (read: terrible Edward!), Grant has been far from my favorite actor. He is so often type cast as the bumbling “hero” or “idiot” (depending on your view of things) who never quite seems to express his characters’ thoughts without royally messing it up. This role is really no different, except that maybe he had the girl already, but unfortunately seeing him play the role for the millionth time doesn’t help anything. By watching this that suddenly just struck me just how often he plays these roles. If there is one thing to be praised about that, he is perfect for the role… and surprisingly, despite my griping, neither he nor Parker “ruined” this. Both managed to pull off likable characters, flaws and all. Even still, the supporting characters are more fun, only they have such limited screen time, they are never “explored” thoroughly, because we’re so wrapped up in rooting for Meryl and Paul to work out their trust issues. (For Meryl, these were valid or at least needed to be taken seriously.) Sam Elliot and Mary Steenbburgen are fabulous as the sheriff/deputy team assigned to protect them, likewise, minor plot lines involving the love-hate relationship between two assistants and the Wyoming locals provided some “cute” structure for the movie.
During my rental period, I watched this twice and the second time through it wasn’t near as engaging, but then that may be just because I’d just seen it less than 24 hours earlier. Perhaps, it was that the jokes weren’t as “funny” in that short turnaround or maybe I just wasn’t interested period, but whatever the case it doesn’t detract that this is just plain fun! Music is catchy and makes you want to tap your toes, the desolate scenery is a nice contrast to the busyness of the city and the ending is so sweet that no matter its recycled status, you cannot help smile. Morals are skewed, making for nearly the only clinch in an otherwise amusing night of entertainment. (Depending on your political leanings, a brief dig at Sarah Palin may be “bothersome.”) What this lacks in profundity it makes up for in a lack of content and is yet another reason in making this more likable. Overlooking its flat ending (i.e., the climax at the rodeo), Did you Hear about the Morgans? is altogether quite fun. You do sense the Morgans fell in love all over again (the scene under the stars was especially sweet; contrived as it may be), finding they are able to give themselves a second chance of sorts, and above all, forgive one another’s flaws.
(PG13 content: Paul cheated on Meryl during a business trip because he was “confused.” There is a handful of misusing God’s name [“oh my god!”] and a use or two of sh*t, along with some British profanity; “screw you” is used. It’s suggested a couple had trouble getting pregnant [a brief, but “comical” conversation revolves around some of the things they tried to help the infertility]. There is some comedic violence – guns are fired, a man falls from a balcony with a knife in his back.)