Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD VIEW -

ANY con­nois­seur of con­tem­po­rary ro­man­tic com­edy knows bet­ter than to ex­pect too much de­vi­a­tion from the for­mula. If a cou­ple is on the outs, some wacky ad­ver­sity will in­evitably arise, draw­ing them to­gether un­til they grad­u­ally re­alise that yadda, yadda, yadda. The fun is not in kick­ing ex­pec­ta­tions but in their ful­fil­ment.

One thing is a given: that the ac­tors will take at least some small plea­sure in the snappy spar­ring that leads to their char­ac­ters’ even­tual rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

So why do Hugh Grant and Sarah Jes­sica Parker, as re­morse­ful adul­terer Paul Mor­gan and his soon-to-be ex-wife, Meryl, look so gosh-darned mis­er­able in Did You Hear About the Mor­gans, an ex­er­cise in fore­gone con­clu­sions so dreary as to hardly qual­ify as com­edy? For much of the film – in which the tit­u­lar es­tranged cou­ple is forced into hid­ing in re­motest Wy­oming af­ter wit­ness­ing a mur­der in Man­hat­tan – the look on Parker’s face is one of such Dos­to­evskian un­hap­pi­ness, even for a woman who has been cheated on, that frankly she’s a lit­tle hard to watch.

And Grant – who in his two pre­vi­ous out­ings with wri­ter­di­rec­tor Marc Lawrence ( Two Weeks No­tice and Mu­sic and Lyrics) could at least be re­lied on to look rogu­ish and tou­sled – comes across as per­pet­u­ally wor­ried and puffy-eyed here, as if he just pulled an all-nighter in an emer­gency room.

Whether they’re deal­ing with a tame-looking griz­zly bear or the strangely in­com­pe­tent hit man (Michael Kelly) who’s try­ing to rub them out, the Mor­gans whine. And if they’re not hav­ing fun, how are we sup­posed to?

It doesn’t help that the film is rid­dled with fish-out-of-wa­ter cliches. The Mor­gans are wealthy, lib­eral smarty-pantses. Their Hicksville hosts – played by Mary Steen­bur­gen and, for God’s sake, Sam El­liott, sport­ing a mous­tache that al­most de­serves sep­a­rate billing – are work­ing-class, con­ser­va­tive rubes.

Did you hear about the Mor­gans? Trust me, you don’t want to. – Wash­ing­ton Post

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