MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Did You Hear About the Morgans?’

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“Did You Hear About the Morgans?” is about as stereotypical as a stereotypical romantic comedy can get: Male and female lead have problem; a whacky circumstance forces them together; in the end, they realize how much they love each other.

Throw in some fish-out-of-water locales and dialogue that borders on the abusively mundane, and you’ve got romantic-comedy gold!

Paul Morgan (Hugh Grant) has separated from his wife, Meryl (Sarah Jessica Parker) because he cheated on her. When the two get together for a nice dinner to try to reconcile things, they witness a murder. Unsafe in the Big Apple, the pair are relocated to Ray, Wyo., where they learn the rustic ways of rural folks and try to knit together their unraveling marriage.

That’s about it, as far as plot goes, which isn’t terribly surprising. These movies live or die on the strength of the chemistry between the two leads.

Well, can Mr. Grant and Miss Parker carry the film?

Yes, kind of.

Mr. Grant is always at his best playing the vaguely hang-dog, mumbly boyfriend/husband looking to get back in his partner’s good graces, and this turn is no exception. He’s endearingly awkward without putting anyone off.

Miss Parker, meanwhile, inoffensively if unimpressively plays a toned-down version of Carrie from “Sex and the City,” a city girl who likes nice clothes and good bagels and can’t imagine shooting a gun or riding a horse. She and Mr. Grant don’t exactly throw off sparks when they’re on-screen together, but they don’t appear utterly miserable, either. They’re just kind of … there.

That’s the problem with “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” It’s just kind of … there. The jokes are rote and obvious without benefiting from snappy delivery or any real pizazz. The only thing that saves this picture from being a total dud is the stellar supporting cast.

Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen play the couple hosting the Morgans in Wyoming: Their no-nonsense, folksy ways easily could have come off as cloying with less competent actors in the roles. Elisabeth Moss (best known for her portrayal of Peggy Olson on AMC’s “Mad Men”) is also excellent in her few scenes as Meryl’s high-strung assistant.

★★
TITLE: “Did You Hear About the Morgans?”
RATING: PG-13 (sexual references and momentary violence)
CREDITS: Directed and written by Marc Lawrence
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
WEB SITE: http://www.didyouhearaboutthemorgans.com/
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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