Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009) Review

Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009) Review
| Dec 18, 2009

Did you hear about Hugh Grant being a charmingly befuddled Englishman? Did you hear about Sarah Jessica Parker being a decidedly metropolitan New Yorker? Have you heard about the state of Wyoming liking gun slinging cowboy culture and disliking sophisticated city folks? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably know enough about Did You Hear About the Morgans? to ever bother watching it. Based on the hackneyed witness-relocation-program premise, this fish-out-of-water comedy is combined with a will-they-or-won’t-they romantic comedy to create a tale about two people who try so hard to not be together that they can’t help but be together.

Grant and Parker play Paul and Meryl Morgan, a Manhattan couple going through the motions of separation following Paul’s bouts of infidelity. Paul’s a high-stakes lawyer and Meryl a high-priced realtor, so naturally, it takes the unwavering dedication of their overworked personal assistants (Jesse Liebman and Elisabeth Moss) to even get them in the same restaurant. After one particularly awkward dinner, the couple witness the murder of a noted arms-dealer. Then, for the Morgans protection, they’re immediately placed in protective custody. Sent to Ray, Wyoming, they’re reborn as Paul and Meryl Foster, the cousins of the local sheriff, Clay Wheeler (Sam Elliot). But as luck would have it, the fresh country air and the silent Wyoming nights help the troubled couple remember why they fell in love in the first place.

With that being said, it’s worth noting that The Morgans was not the painful experience you might expect it to be. There’s something about the Grant/Parker dynamic that strikes a believable comedic balance of discomfort and discord, even though much of the humour tends to falls flat. There are some scenes where the embarrassment of the actors is clearly etched upon their faces. For instance, Grant looks like he’s swallowed castor oil in between takes, probably in penitence for playing his I’m-so-English schtick one too many times. Sam Elliot looks bored as hell, perhaps because he’s Hollywood’s go-to guy for world-weary rural lawman roles. Incidentally, Sam Elliot and Tommy Lee Jones should headline a movie called “Southern Policemen Stereotypes”. And I’m not sure how Michael Kelly got cast as the bumbling assassin who plagues Paul and Meryl, but he was about as threatening as Grant with five o’clock shadow.

Did You Hear About the Morgans? is not without its easy charm. Unfortunately though, it lies mostly in the secondary characters who don’t get nearly enough screen time. For instance, it would have been great to see more of the slow-boil sexual tension between the two personal assistants. Especially considering Liebman’s charmingly befuddled role is not only better than Grant’s, but his interplay with Moss’ passive-aggressive perfectionist character provides some much needed comedic relief and unexpected heart. Also, the relationship between Clay and his wife (Mary Steenburgen) seemed more worthy of exploration than did the dysfunction interaction of the Morgans. Even a brief cameo by Wilford Brimley provided a welcome distraction to the predictable developments of this movie. And by the way, what does it mean that Grant had more comedic chemistry with Brimley than he does with Parker? A buddy movie wherein the grizzled Brimley lobs insults at his flimsy cohort may make a comedy worth seeing.

Basically, The Morgans is good for a few giggles. There’s nothing here that’s outright laugh-worthy because so much of the humour is based on antiquated stereotypes. You know what would have been refreshing? If the Morgans had moved to Wyoming and found that they like it there better than their New York lives, or if the assassin chasing them didn’t seem so inept that he looked like he should have been trying to rob Macaulay Culkin’s house. In the end, this film lacked surprises, and it ended up playing out more predictably than a Three Stooges short involving either food or paint. If you hear about The Morgans at all, you’ll probably hear that it was not that great, and that you should have got to the theatre earlier for that 3-D screening of Avatar instead.

Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009) Review 1
Marc Lawrence
Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sam Elliott
Running Time:
103 min