DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: Did You Hear About The Morgans?

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Did You Hear About The Morgans?

Did You Hear About The Morgans? (2009) Dir. Marc Lawrence
Starring: Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Harper, Sam Elliot and Mary Steenburgen


By Greg Klymkiw

Green Acres is the place to be,
Farm living is the life for me,
Land spread about so far and wide,
Keep Manhattan and give me that countryside.

New York is where I'd rather stay,
I get allergic smelling hay,
I just adore a Penthouse view,
Darling I love you, but give me Park Avenue.

Lyrics from the immortal television situation comedy "Green Acres"

There are many things wrong with the insufferable new romantic comedy "Did You Hear About The Morgans?", but its most obvious indignity to humanity is, of course, Ms. Sarah Jessica Parker. Voted by the astute readers of Maxim as "The Un-Sexiest Person Alive", Ms. Parker is, to my uncharitable eyes, the most repulsive leading lady ever to grace the silver screen. Inspired, however, by the good cheer of the Christmas season to take a more humane stance when considering the virtues of a two-legged ungulate mammal, I suppressed the title of the great novel and film "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and instead, reminded myself that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and only skin-deep. With an earnest commitment to put aside my petty quibbles over Ms. Parker's looks, I decided instead to search beneath her equine visage and peel back the unsightly layer to glance deep into her very soul. And what did I find? The personality of a harridan. So much for being charitable.

Sitting through "Did You Hear About The Morgans?" I was mouth agape as I bore witness to the affable shaggy-dog Hugh Grant (as a Manhattan lawyer) revealing how incalculably love-stricken he is with this braying glue factory reject. Ms. Parker purports to portray a real-estate baroness who makes the cover of New York magazine due to her apparent prowess in selling over-priced Manhattan properties to rich people. Mr. Grant and Ms. Parker were once a lovingly married couple, but as Ms. Parker's fortunes in the real estate market rise, Mr. Grant's minimal exposure to Ms. Parker's pursed punim and castrating klafte, forces him to abandon the preferred alternative of palm action to satisfy his manly needs and instead indulge in a brief extra-marital affair. Alas, this act of dipping his wick into another vat of hot wax is the one and only straw that breaks the camel's back of their perfect marriage. (We know it was perfect because the script tells us it was.) Having been separated from his filly for three long months, Mr. Grant is desperate to get her back. He successfully rustles up Ms. Parker in her horse flesh at a swanky fund-raiser for breast cancer and begs for an opportunity to spend some quality time to talk over their situation. She reluctantly agrees.

This is where the movie gets even worse and at this point, it's not all Ms. Parker's fault. The blame can now be squarely shifted to the supremely untalented writer-director of this atrocity, Marc Lawrence - not just for the poor taste of casting Ms. Parker, but because he has rendered a work that reaches the nadir of his canon (as it were). Having written and directed the wretched "Music and Lyrics" and "Two Weeks Notice", in addition to writing (so to speak) the screenplays for "Miss Congeniality I and II" and the grotesque remake of "The Out-of-Towners" and, lest we forget, his five long years of cranking out episodes of the moronic Michael J. Fox TV-series "Family Ties", Mr. Lawrence has been rooted in the realm (such as it is) of "how low can one go?" and with this movie, manages to bore well below rock bottom.

"Did You Hear About The Morgans?" is one of the worst romantic comedies ever made - not only a paint-by-numbers rom-com, but an overblown episode of "Green Acres". And that, I fear, is an insult to "Green Acres".

When Mr. Grant and Ms. Parker witness a gangland slaying, they are shipped off from Manhattan to the middle of Nowheresville, Wyoming to serve out an undetermined amount of time in a witness protection program. The one tiny bright spot in this mess are the husband and wife U.S. Marshall team charged with guarding them, played by the attractive and delightful Sam Elliot and Mary Steenburgen. If only the movie had been about THEM. As the picture cross-pollinates with the fish-out-of-water genre, writer (as it were) Lawrence, tosses in an evil hit man hell bent on tracking our couple down to rub them out.

The predictable course this journey takes is in the gradual revelation that time in the wilderness is going to be an ideal backdrop for our lovebirds to get back together. We, the audience, then get to experience one "joke" after another as these dyed-in-the-wool big city folk learn the virtues of down home living, big box stores, air-brained small-town inbreds, and membership in the National Rifle Association. We even get to see Mr. Grant needing to use bear repellent and spray it in his own eyes -not just once, but - Whah-Whah! - TWICE!

In the parlance of many a New Yorker, "Oy, Gevault!" Can the picture possibly get any worse? You bet! We're inflicted with witnessing how the rural inbreds of Wyoming come to appreciate the joys of new-fangled big-city ways in this backwards idyll.

It is, at this point, dear reader that I must admit - with some embarrassment - to literally vomiting on the floor of the theatre auditorium. I'd prefer to say the movie initiated this unexpected expulsion, but alas, I'd be a liar - it was, in fact some poorly masticated and undigested chunks of Schneider's all-beef hot dog that I purchased from the concession that managed to come up on me without enough warning to take leave of my seat.

But, I digress.

So, where does this all go? Well, it's probably no surprise that our couple reunites and that the threat of the hit man is laid to rest when the entire town of inbreds - man, woman and - YES! - child, pulls out their firearms and rescues Mr. Grant and Ms. Parker from the cold-hearted killer.

The even bigger shock is how a weakly integrated subplot of our couple's attempts to have children turns out. Earlier in the film, it's revealed that Mr. Grant is shooting blanks during the couple's indulgence in marital duties and that adoption is being pursued as an alternative to a natural childbirth that will never happen. Nowhere in the film does it suggest that it's Ms. Parker's fault for inspiring sterility in Mr. Grant, but we know better, don't we? In any event, all wraps up sweetly when our couple adopts a baby from China, names it (I kid you not) after the small town in Wyoming where they re-discovered their love for each other AND, yes, you guessed it, Mr. Grant musters a decent shot on goal and Ms. Parker is indeed pregnant with her very own biologically-generated child.

All that finally remains by the end of the film is what our imagination can possibly conjure up for what might finally pop out of Ms. Parker's womb. Something, no doubt, that will make the creature that pops out of John Hurt's chest in "Alien" resemble Shirley Temple in "Dimples".


Anonymous said...

Probably the most entertaining review ever. Thanks!

Greg Klymkiw said...

Thanks! The pleasure is/was all mine!

Annabel said...

what about some family movies?
what do you think about this upcoming movie? i just saw it in the theaters with the family :)

It's the Despicable Me teaser trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsiayV5LuD0

i couldnt stop laughing when that little guy laughs.. haha seems like good potential for the family :)