Did You Hear About the Morgans?
(Marc Lawrence, 2009, USA)
Taking cues from almost every other romantic comedy committed to celluloid, Did You Hear About the Morgans? sees Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker team up to play Paul and Meryl Morgan respectively, a married couple recently split over an indiscretion on Paul’s part. The two (apparently) embody the typical contemporary New Yorker; she is the go-getting businesswoman interested in adoption, he’s an affable, but no less successful lawyer pining for his estranged spouse. They both live privileged lives amongst the elite bourgeoisie of upper class America, those people you see in movies so convoluted and self-absorbed that they cannot exist in the real world. Plot-wise, it’s so far so bland, so writer-director Lawrence throws a cat amongst the pigeons by having the pair stumble upon a murder, then immediately placed into the witness protection programme because that is the FBI’s go-to strategy when it comes to these things, so unsure are they about capturing the killer. Why did the murder take place? Beats me.
Dull romcom turns into fish out of water tale as Meryl and Paul relocate to small-town Wyoming, where the locals carry rifles, attend rodeos and don’t understand the concept of serving salad dressing on the side. They are strangers in what we are made to believe is a strange land with a distinct lack of a regular internet connection, and the bickering twosome must learn to debase their expectations and learn to get along, all the while evading the killer hot on their trail, a supposedly dangerous man thankfully given a facial scar, just in case we forget just what he is doing in all this calamity. There is also a subplot concerning Paul and Meryl’s personal assistants, but that’s not important.
Did You Hear About the Morgans? is not a good film. In fact it’s one of the worst I’ve seen in recent memory. Its characters are, not only sickeningly stereotypical, but wrapped up in such a banal, clichéd storyline that you end up wishing they’d get caught and killed or slaughtered by one of the bears roaming around their lowly cabin, the focus of one hilarious scene where Paul comes face to face with a ferocious grizzly. “Pleased to meet you”, he wearily retorts, before being sprayed in the eyes with bear repellent. One of the many painful excuses for comedy.
Clearly bothered by the evils of typecasting, Grant turns in a lazy, indifferent and unintentionally hilarious performance, entirely uninterested in anything beyond eventually cashing his sizeable paycheque. He plays Paul as an oafish idiot who is more annoying than loveable, just like every other character he’s plays, which is more than can be said for Jessica Parker’s shameless reiteration of SATC’s Carrie Bradshaw; the materialistic socialite, the self-confessed pinnacle of independent women. Her devotion to consumerism is brought to a head upon entering a ‘Bargain Barn’, the US alternative to TK MAXX, where she is shocked at the price of a sweater ($9.99), and the fact that it is two for one. Her enlightenment to affordable clothing is excruciatingly hard to stomach.
Lawrence, who should have known better after helming the dire Two Weeks Notice and forgettable Music and Lyrics (both starring Grant), says nothing about the cultural divide between northern and southern America other than the latter is not actually the den of inferiority it’s made out to be, and that lowering your standards, living off the land and accepting citizens of a lower rung isn’t always a bad thing. Not only are his directing abilities clumsy and amateur, they are inept on every cinematic level, making this a joyless experience which, once finally over, will leave you punished for ever wondering about the Morgans, let alone hearing about them.
Did You Hear About the Morgans? 2009. [Film] Directed by Marc Lawrence. USA: Columbia Pictures.
Music and Lyrics, 2007. [Film] Directed by Marc Lawrence. USA: Castle Rock Entertainment.
Two Weeks Notice, 2002. [Film] Directed by Marc Lawrence. USA: Castle Rock Entertainment.