..

TWO WEEKS NOTICE

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant
Director:  Marc Lawrence
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Features:  See Review
Length:  102 Minutes
Release Date:  April 29, 2003

“I think you are the most selfish human being on the planet!”

“Well, that’s just silly.  Have you MET everyone on the planet?”

Film *

Roger Ebert once called romantic comedies cinema’s comfort food.  For me, they’re more like a lettuce- only salad…not very filling, and while not bad for you, not exactly brimming with nutrients either.  Either way, Sandra Bullock has become something of the romantic comedy’s version of Chef Emeril.  Every year or so, bam, there’s another one.  Only with the same ingredients and same serving temperature without fail.

Two Weeks Notice is the latest in a line of fluffy, soulless romantic comedies that’s neither very romantic nor very funny, more preoccupied with attractive stars drooling out ridiculously absurd dialogue that intends to pass for witty.  It suffers from yet another scriptwriter and director who thinks he’s more clever than he is and who suffers from auditory fantasticus…no ear for how people really talk at all.

The only aspect that makes this film stand out slightly from others just like it is a decidedly Socialist overtone.  Here, Sandra Bullock plays a “good” attorney named Lucy Kelson, who went to Harvard law school and spent her years since working pro bono and lying down in front of wrecking balls.  Hugh Grant plays an “evil” corporate big wig, George Wade, who swings said wrecking balls.  In Hollywood’s fantasy world, these people exist only to tear down schools and community centers in order to erect condominiums in their place.  Funny, ever single school or community center I’ve ever known would seem a rather poor selection for a high rise, but never mind.

They have a meet cute, and soon Lucy ends up working for George.  Not for the quarter-million dollar salary, of course, but for the resources to continue her charitable work.  No mention of whether or not that $250 grand is going to those charities or not, but that’s beside the point.  Lucy is good, you see, and therefore, she’s entitled to have a lot of money.  Only people like George are evil and should be stripped of their cash in Hollywood’s Socialist ideal.

Am I going overboard with the “good” and “evil” thing?  Not at all.  In one of the film’s most serious lines, Lucy actually tells George solemnly and sweetly that “you should use your powers for good instead of evil”.  Neatly outlined for those who might have missed the grandstanding up to that point.

Apart from that, the film follows the normal formula.  George drives Lucy crazy, Lucy tries to quit, George tries to keep Lucy on, George and Lucy start to realize they might love each other.  But does that revelation come too late?  Who cares?

Despite producing the film, Bullock doesn’t seem in step with Lucy.  I could never buy her as a straight-A overachiever who takes life by storm with a disarming intellect.  In some scenes where she plays lawyer, she seems a bit handicapped by the dialogue.  Grant, on the other hand, is only ever hired to be charming and goofy, and he performs up to standard here, right down to his always frumpy hair and blank smile.

But what the hey…as long as an “evil” corporate giant like George, who builds buildings, creates jobs, and elevates the quality of life and value of communities can learn to forgo all that in order not to murder trees to make stationery from a “good” assistant like Lucy, all is well.  They probably deserve each other.

BONUS TRIVIA:  Keep an eye out for a cameo by New York Mets star catcher Mike Piazza, in the only scene in the movie that actually garnered a laugh from me.

Video **1/2

This is a decent anamorphic offering from Warner Bros. (full frame version also available), but not perfect.  Some far shots show a bit of shimmer, some close shots show a touch of compression, and in general the images are just a tad softer and less defined than I’m used to seeing on DVD.  It’s more than watchable, though, with good coloring throughout, and really, the complaints are minor…just enough to take notice of and suggest that it could have been done a little better.

Audio **

As with most romantic comedies, the dialogue makes up the heart of the soundtrack, and all spoken words are delivered with clarity.  The track is noise free, but by nature, offers little dynamic range and very minimal use of the .1 channel and surrounds.  As good as it needs to be, and nothing more.

Features ***1/2

The extras are fairly plentiful, starting with a commentary track with writer/director Marc Lawrence and stars Bullock and Grant.  Surprise…they actually DO talk like regular people in real life…reminds me of the late Gene Siskel’s assessment of film quality:  would a film of the actors sitting down and having lunch be more interesting than the movie they actually made?  In this case, very probably.

There is also an HBO First Look special with cast and crew interviews, two deleted scenes, talent files, trailer, and a feature that allows you to go to watch some behind the scenes antics as you view the film entitled, appropriately enough, “Two Beeps Notice”.

Summary:

Two Weeks Notice would only be another yawner off the assembly line with attractive but bland stars, ludicrous dialogue, and fluffy sentiment, if not for its blatant political views monopolizing the unromantic and unfunny romantic comedy.  That drops it down from merely dismissible to a tad offensive in my book.  Bridget Jones, where are you when we need you most?