Did You Hear About the Morgans?
I Wish I Hadn't
Director Marc Lawrence is seemingly trying to create a niche for himself in the romantic comedy genre, almost as if he’s aiming to be the male Nora Ephron. This is now his third film as a director, all of which have been rather straight-forward romantic comedies. Each has starred Hugh Grant and the first two—Two Weeks Notice and Music and Lyrics—were actually quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, Did You Hear About the Morgans? gets lost in a vast landscape void of anything representing a good movie.
The clichéd plot focuses on Paul and Meryl Morgan, a New York power couple who are currently separated. He’s desperate to win her back and after convincing her to join him for dinner, they witness a murder and are whisked away into the witness protection program.
They wind up in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Ray, Wyoming under the supervision of the local sheriff. As you might expect, forced into such close proximity and united against this strange new land in which they find themselves, the two slowly begin to set aside their differences and rediscover their love for one another.
If that brief plot description gives you a strange sense of déjà vu, you are not alone. Everything about Morgans echoes about two dozen other, better movies. The epitome of the movie’s unoriginality comes later on when city slicker Meryl gets lessons on how to milk a cow. It must not be possible to make a movie like this without a cow-milking scene. It must be some deal the cows worked into their Hollywood contracts.
Another issue I have with this kind of movie is that the main characters never seem to understand the gravity of the situation. Being protected from someone intent on murdering them is seen as an inconvenience. Now, I’ve never been a material witness requiring protection—knock on wood—but I imagine I’d be smart enough (or too scared) to chance it by calling to check in.
Now, unoriginality does not always translate into a bad movie, but when the movie is supposed to be a comedy and the number of laughs can be counted on one hand, it’s got problems. A lot of the blame for the comedy’s failings must go to Lawrence both for writing the bad jokes in the first place and then failing as a director to yell cut when they just weren’t working. However, some of the blame must also go to the actors who just can’t seem to time their deliveries. Mary Steenburgen has a line near the end, for example, that I recognize could have been at least amusing, but the timing of the delivery is so flat that it just doesn’t work.
The few laughs that do come are courtesy of Hugh Grant and I do admit that I was kind of amused by how his character just went along with things. There’s also a scene in which he, as Paul, and Sarah Jessica Parker, as Meryl, are remembering their wedding vows that was genuinely sweet and indicated the potential of the pairing. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie completely failed to mine that potential.
Did You Hear About the Morgans? is rated PG-13 for “some sexual references and momentary violence.” This is a rather mild movie that probably could have gotten by with a PG rating.
Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Did You Hear About the Morgans?