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Did You Hear About the Morgans, Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker

Columbia Pictures

Review in a Hurry: A hired killer wants to off a neurotic pair of New York soon-to-be exes, played by Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. But the movie is already D.O.A. thanks to a draggy plot, schticky acting and gags best left in the bargain bin.

The Bigger Picture: Meet the Morgans. Paul (Grant) is a lawyer who cheated on his wife once, regrets it and is trying to win her back. Meryl (Parker) is a go-go Manhattan real estate agent, a profession that is considered approachable and sympathetic in the town of I Don't Know Where.

After a typical dinner out—you know, guy takes girl out, personal assistants wait outside the restaurant in case the lawyer or the real estate agent need anything—the estranged Morgans witness a professional murder. Now they must flee their beloved New York if they want to survive.

They are shuttled off to Wyoming, where the women shoot guns for fun and decorate with deer heads. To her credit, SJP refrains from playing her character too neurotic or East Coast snobby. When Meryl goes shopping at a Wyoming Bargain Barn, she exclaims that she's never seen sweaters for under $10 before. A less deft actor may have let such line slide into snide, but not in the savvier hands of SJP.

Grant, however, leans way to heavily on his trademark floppy British schtick; it's as if there was a Bewilderment Button behind Grant's left ear, and the director kept pushing it every time the filmmakers ran out of other ideas. Grant also avoids eye contact so often that the reserved Englishness comes off as a possible neurological disorder.

There's a whole lot of talking about relationships, often in front of peaceful fields of wheat or a dairy barn. But it's very, very hard to make rom-com audiences care whether any movie couple gets or stays together. And as much as these two characters talk, there's little worth sharing with the wider world beyond hey-you-slept-with-somebody.

There are some truly great rom-coms of this fish-out-of-water genre, including It Happened One Night. That classic benefited from crackling actor chemistry and brilliant writing. Did You Hear About the Morgans simply lacks the necessary wattage, in all departments.

The 180—a Second Opinion: If you're a diehard SJP fan, she's in fine form here, and watching her learn to fire a gun may be worth the ticket price.

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