Did You Hear About the Morgans?:
In answer to the title question, I say, "yeah, unfortunately I did hear about the Morgans." And really, it's not all that exciting a story. During our screening, the wife asked if The Morgans had been nominated for any Razzie awards (the polar opposite of the Oscars™). Sadly, this totally inert movie doesn't even reach those lows. Its particular brand of low-wattage entertainment inspires nothing but mild indifference as the movie just sort-of sits there like a lump on a log.
At approximately 100-minutes, this adventure rom-com feels padded and puffed up like marshmallow fluff. Even the padding feels padded, rendering what should have been a 20-minute sequence from Love American Style into a cinematic placeholder without even a particular place to hold. But at least these Morgans are polite and accommodating: the plot can be summed up in one sentence, while moments of laughter or thrills come in easy to handle numbers - one or two each. As for the plot, highly successful estranged marrieds the Morgans witness a murder, winding up stuck together in the Witness Protection Program in Ray, Wyoming. If there's a conflict in this slight movie, I suppose it's the question as to whether the homey confines of small town Wyoming will help the Morgans reconcile, and more importantly, does anyone watching care?
The answer of course, is that no one will really care, as every aspect of the movie is peddled so softly that it disappears before your eyes. An even more critical failure, however, is the lack of chemistry and believability emanating from the leads. Sarah Jessica Parker's Meryl Morgan is an unconvincingly hot enough realtor that she gets the cover of New York Magazine. We see her shilling one fabulous apartment, while otherwise leading a carefree aimless life. Hugh Grant as husband Paul seems to be a highly successful lawyer, though he's such a milquetoast around his wife we're hard pressed to imagine he'd be able to hold any job at all. Meanwhile, his re-emerging devotion to Meryl presents itself as rote pathos - his spineless conciliation seems to concern only himself; is he doing the right thing, or is he saving face? There's zero chemistry between the pair, while the only apparent reason to cram the two ill-fitting puzzle pieces together is so they can be good parental examples.
Minus a human story to latch onto, Morgans is left to profit either from fish-out-of-water comedy or on-the-run drama. The crime caper drama doesn't come to a head until the final ten minutes, so comedy must lift flagging romance. This too is doomed to failure, because actual jokes are few and far between. When humor does rear its head, the punch lines fall dead from the air, abandoned to perish like weak baby birds. Mild bits of humor, such as Paul getting sprayed in the face with 'Grizz-Lee-B-Gone' mostly give way to shots of the couple jogging around in the countryside, discussing their marital problems without any passion, or being almost instantly accepted into the community of Ray. A needless subplot involving the Morgan's personal assistants is as enervating as the complete misuse of Sam Elliot as a salt-of-the-earth Marshall - and that's about it for the Morgans.
Did You Hear About The Morgans? starts with a mild, unoriginal concept, then promptly deflates itself through poor casting, lackadaisical pacing, a dearth of humor and tepid drama. Sadly, it's not even bad enough to be interesting; the entire simplistic, rote movie just lies down and perishes before your eyes, though you can't possibly even care enough to mourn it.
At least this 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation lives up to quality standards. The image is quite crisp and clear, allowing for stunning views of SJP's somewhat damaged-looking hair, plus Sam Elliott and Wilford Brimley's huge mustaches. Colors are rather vibrant while looking natural and showing off the beauty of the countryside. I noticed no glaring compression artifacts.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio in English and French (QC) is fine, as well. This certainly isn't a movie that requires the 5.1 treatment, now standard for DVDs, as it is a dialog driven movie. For that, dialog is mixed adequately within the soundscape, which displays a pleasing dynamic range, and is otherwise just fine for average AV setups.
There are plenty of extras here, vainly trying to generate some interest in this limp flick. English, English SDH and French Subtitles, plus plenty of Previews share space with lots of other stuff. First off is the Commentary Track with director Marc Lawrence, Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. It's a silly, pleasant track with lots of self-deprecating humor about the movie. Of course Hugh Grant especially doesn't realize that most of his quality quips are true. Two Deleted Scenes run about 4 minutes total, one of which simply involves Hugh Grant making a tricky putt. 6 minutes of Outtakes provide more laughs than the whole of the movie. Location, Location, Location!, a making-of featurette, runs 18 minutes, and is fairly standard EPK material. Cowboys and Cosmopolitans, at 8 minutes is simply another EPK concerning the cast. Park Avenue Meets the Prairie takes 5 minutes to look at the fashions in the movie. It;s just more EPK, and of limited interest to most. A Bear of a Scene takes 5 minutes to break down the filming of Paul's encounter with a roving Grizzly. A 13-minute International Special is, well, another EPK about the movie.
Did You Hear About The Morgans? isn't terribly bad, but it isn't much of anything else, either. A boilerplate plot exists solely to get the fish out of water and into some comedy, before the saintly denizens of Ray, Wyoming (and a roving assassin) convince the pair of erstwhile lovers that they are meant to be together. If Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant were even halfway believable as a couple, we might have cause to care what happens, but their sparkless relationship, a dearth of humor, and an aimless pace that results in every sequence falling flat ensures that even if we did hear about the Morgans, we wouldn't really give a damn. I'll give it the most faint Rent It recommendation possible.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com