What's so startling about Marc Lawrence's new movie Did You Hear About the Morgans? is just how unfunny it is. Consider that the film boasts of humorous actors Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker accompanied by weirdly neurotic secretaries as sidekicks; a fish-out-of-water comic situation; and the added bonus of a vicious killer to spice up the laughs. On paper, Morgans the film has all the ingredients for a dishy comedy. Unfortunately, rather than piquant pasta, we get soggy noodles.
Grant and Parker play Paul and Meryl Morgan who seem to be living the Manhattan dream as a successful lawyer, and top estate agent respectively. Unfortunately all's not well in the Morgan household; issues of fertility and fidelity have driven wide cracks through the relationship. As a result they are separated and contemplating divorce.
Their squabbling ways are in danger of being silenced forever — not by the studio pulling the plug on the whole soggy noodle enterprise — but by a professional killer within the film. After meeting for a dinner that doesn't go down too well, the Morgans take a walk and unwittingly stumble across a murder. The couple sees the killer and in turn are seen by him.
Initially they refuse to leave the city — the prospect of taking a bullet is far less threatening than losing clients and restaurant bookings — but when the killer actively hunts them down, they run out of options. The pair gets sucked into the federal witness protection programme and are temporarily placed in a remote Wyoming town under the taciturn care of the town's sheriff (Sam Elliott) and his feisty wife (Mary Steenburgen). It's not difficult to guess what follows.
Grant has done two movies written and directed by Lawrence — Two Weeks Notice (2002) and Music & Lyrics (2007) — that were pretty decent examples of the rom-com genre that demand sweet fluff and witty banter. But Morgans doesn't complete a Grant-Lawrence hat-trick, quite the opposite in fact.
Grant essentially does a parody of his standard charming, bumbling screen persona that retains all the gawkiness and none of the charm. Grant who normally has great timing and an ear for the nuances of comedy, sounds as enthused about his role as someone being offered a plate of those aforementioned soggy noodles. Parker, meanwhile, does a version of Carrie Bradshaw selling real estate rather than column inches, but minus Sex and the City's contemporary slickness.
Morgans is not an offensive comedy. On the contrary, it is so desperately politically correct that it feels like an extended therapy session on how to deal with estranged spouses in unfamiliar terrains. A complete lack of chemistry between the leading pair doesn't help matters. Admittedly, it's unfair to be annoyed with the actors when it's obvious that all they have been offered by way of dialogue, plot and character is the equivalent of soggy noodles. Still, you wish they had worked up the enthusiasm to at least hurl the stuff at each other, rather than nibble it with tepid disinterest.
Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Cast : Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen
Director: Marc Lawrence
Storyline: Paul and Meryl Morgan face the twin dangers of their marriage ending and being the targets of a professional killer
Bottomline: Surprisingly unfunny