There is a persistent notion in the world, led by the terrible term "chick flick", that men can't or won't enjoy a romantic comedy. Guys like action, girls like romance. This is, of course, dumb and untrue. What is true is that many people go to see movies without much interest in whether or not they're "good" by any technical measure, and more or less exactly what they expect to see. There's nothing wrong with that (we all eat at McDonald's once in awhile), but the responsibility of a film critic is to look at it in those technical measures. However, trust me when I say I do so only because I wish to see a better romantic comedy, the kind that is both technically good and sweetly satisfying.
Two Weeks Notice stars Sandra Bullock as Lucy Kelson, an idealistic lawyer who hopes to devote her skills to the needy and underprivileged. When we first meet her, she's clinging to a wrecking ball with two friends behind her, hoping to save a theatre scheduled for demolition. George Wade (Hugh Grant) is a real estate billionaire who makes his money demolishing old theatres and building expensive apartment complexes on them. Wade is also a real playboy, consistently hiring ladies for their looks rather than their resumes. His brother, Howard (David Haig), the real boss of the Wade Corporation, has had enough of it, and assigns George to get a real lawyer rather than the next beautiful blonde who catches his eye. The next day, George runs into Lucy, and despite her view of George and the Wade Corporation as the enemy, she agrees as long as George will save the community center where her parents (Dana Ivey and Robert Klein) live.
This is a perfectly decent set up for a romantic comedy, in which she would learn that a businessman like George Wade might have a soul, and he would discover he has some idealism at heart. Unfortunately, the screenplay for Two Weeks Notice feels like a first draft, filled with half-baked ideas and aborted story threads. The film spends time on numerous, lengthy scenes that aren't about anything at all or concern characters that aren't very important instead of developing Lucy and George.
For instance, take Meryl Brooks (Heather Burns), one of the two friends behind Lucy at that wrecking ball scene. She only appears in three scenes in the movie, which take up maybe six minutes of screen time, and yet her character has remnants of an arc involving her fiancee. George has an office assistant named Norman (Jason Antoon) and a driver named Tony (Dorian Missick), both of whom feel too present in the movie to be supporting, but not present enough to be relevant. Each one speaks to a lack of efficiency at script level, which eats up valuable screen time we should be spending with the main characters. Midway through the film, director / screenwriter Marc Lawrence adds insult to injury by introducing June Carver (Alicia Witt), so that Lucy can suddenly be jealous of this other woman coming onto George (despite the film's failure to communicate how strong Lucy and George's romantic chemistry is meant to be at that moment, or why June would be any worse than the women George tries to pick up in bars).
The same problems occur in terms of plotting. Instead of focusing on the way in which Lucy is helping develop the project near her parents' community center, the script alludes to a number of undefined assignments she's completing. The viewer is left to wonder how much of the philanthropic work she cares about she's able to do, or not do. The ways in which George frustrates her are not entirely consistent, not to mention he remains aloof throughout, making his late-breaking epiphanies feel arbitrary. For Lucy and George's chemistry to be exciting, we would like to know what she sees in him, and what he sees in her, but their sparks are a jumble of random moments, many of them wildly slapstick despite most of the film being dialogue sequences. What do we learn about him or her when he drags her down the highway and pays the owner of an RV so she can use their bathroom?
There are two scenes which suggest a better movie was possible with the same actors and basic story: a scene where Lucy is drunk on George's boat, allowing Bullock to show off her physical comedy chops, and a sweet one, where they talk about architecture while flying over NYC in George's private helicopter. For brief moments, Two Weeks Notice feels like it's about real people sharing something, rather than a random series of events building toward a predetermined climax. It's not that I have anything against romantic comedies. It's just that this isn't a good one.
Two Weeks Notice arrives on Blu-Ray with the same artwork that graced its theatrical posters and DVD edition, of its two stars, back-to-back, in front of a city skyline. The back cover, likewise, is a reformatted version of the DVD cover, with updated specs. The disc comes in a standard eco-friendly Blu-Ray Viva Elite, and there is no insert.
The Video and Audio
Presented in 1.78:1 1080p AVC (despite the packaging's claim of 1.85), Two Weeks Notice is granted a master which shows its age but also has no serious problems to speak of. Had the picture been granted a fresh scan, colors would likely be far more vibrant than they are here, and there's probably another layer of fine detail that could've been unearthed, but there's still some depth to be found in this HD master, especially during the party at the film's climax -- the shots of Grant and Bullock looking at each other across the water are very nicely rendered. It's bright or daytime scenes that end up looking a touch drab, actually; without shadow to accentuate textures, faces can end up looking smooth, although there's plenty of grain (no sign of DNR). There may also be a smidgen of sharpening, although it's so fleeting it might have been my imagination.
The film's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is bright and poppy, but, like the picture, has some sense of age to it, with the sound doing its job surrounding, but never quite offering the kind of clarity and crispness of modern mixes. Of course, there's nothing going on in the film that requires more than what the track offers, so it's probably just fine. Castilian and Latin Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish tracks are also on offer, as well as English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing and Spanish and French subtitles.
The same extras that were present on the DVD have been ported to this Blu-Ray edition, including an audio commentary with Lawrence, Bullock, and Grant, a short "HBO First Look: The Making of Two Weeks Notice" (13:04) featurette, a gag reel (6:34), two brief deleted scenes (2:25), and the film's original theatrical trailer. All of these extras are presented in SD, and tend toward the fluffy and forgettable.
Of the many romantic comedies released in the 2000s, Two Weeks Notice doesn't seem to be particularly well-remembered. Viewed on Blu-Ray, it's easy to see why. Skip it.
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