- The Washington Times - Friday, December 20, 2002

Becoming a boor has done wonders for Hugh Grant's career. The actor's turn as an unctuous boss in 2001's "Bridget Jones's Diary" marked an official parting of the ways with his kindly, stammering image of yore.
This year's "About a Boy," which featured Mr. Grant's Oscar-worthy performance as a man-child dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood, cemented that transition.
Now, in "Two Weeks Notice," Mr. Grant again assumes the role of a cad this time a Donald Trump-style developer with a knack for bedding his comely assistants.
Set in New York, "Notice" pairs the ever-evolving Mr. Grant with Sandra Bullock, an actress stuck in cinematic amber as a romantic foil.
Their love connection rumbles along like a jalopy hurtling over railroad tracks, thanks to a series of poorly realized complications. Only when the stars are left to their own devices does their individual magic sparkle.
Writer-director Marc Lawrence, who also penned Miss Bullock's "Miss Congeniality" and "Forces of Nature," can't resist moments of ill-conceived slapstick. Perhaps some of the blame should fall on Miss Bullock (who produced "Notice"). The plucky actress often makes her characters trip over themselves, as if perpetually trying to deflate her star persona. Don't worry, dear, a few more clunkers will do the trick better than any extended pratfall.
"Two Weeks Notice" begins with raging liberal Lucy Kelson (Miss Bullock) staring down a wrecking ball to protect a city landmark from being torn down.
A lawyer by trade, Lucy ambushes George Wade (Mr. Grant), a billionaire developer behind a bid to flatten a beloved community center. She will do anything to save the center, which she sees as an integral cog in the community.
He agrees to spare the building on the condition she join his company as its new chief counsel. Sensing that she can do more good inside his operation than out on the cold city streets, she agrees.
George wants more than just an able lawyer. He wants a personal shopper and confidante. Lucy can't take it. After months of sexist servitude, she hands in her two weeks' notice.
In their waning time together, the duo find affection that defies their professional clashes. Too bad Mr. Lawrence counters every tender moment with one sure to test our patience.
The film's most embarrassing set piece involves Lucy complaining of an upset stomach while the pair are stuck on a clogged city highway. The ensuing gastrointestinal distress forces George to barge into a nearby recreational vehicle to let Lucy use its bathroom.
It's a glaringly off-key moment better suited for a Farrelly brothers romp, not a frothy romantic comedy. How all those involved couldn't comprehend this is a mystery.
"Two Weeks Notice" suffers from a similar split personality in its supporting cast. Miss Bullock's pal (Heather Burns) is given almost no screen time, and Mr. Grant's requisite buddy (Dorian Missick) is played for a cheap laugh but offers no real camaraderie.
Much better is the interplay between Lucy's parents, played by comic Robert Klein and Dana Ivey. Their work adds depth to Lucy's political fervor as well as a fair share of chuckles.
"You were on the White House enemies list at 5," Mr. Klein tells Lucy when her progressive spirit falters.
Mr. Grant adds a winking, upper-crust patina to his existing British accent as the charismatic developer. His droll delivery makes rudimentary punch lines laugh-out-loud funny. The actor may be coasting here, but even on automatic pilot, he turns in a cocksure performance.
Miss Bullock, in turn, hits most of the right notes, though she isn't immediately believable as the tree-hugging type.
The film's stars deserve better circumstances in which to fall in love before our prying eyes.


**1/2
TITLE: "Two Weeks Notice"
RATING: PG-13 (sexual situations, an extended sequence involving bathroom humor)
CREDITS: Written and directed by Marc Lawrence
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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