“Did You Hear About the Morgans?” starts with a voiceover by Hugh Grant during the opening credits. It’s him doing his standard mumbling, flummoxed-Grant thing, and director Marc Lawrence wisely concluded that we didn’t need to actually see Grant do this bit of dialogue. Just hearing it was enough because we’ve seen it before.
We’ve actually already seen everything in “Morgans,” a standard city-slicker-goes-to-the-country, fish-out-of-water story.
The romantic comedy was clearly conceived as a starring vehicle for Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker, playing to their strengths. But Grant doesn’t seem inspired. Neither does Parker, who here is doing a version of her Carrie Bradshaw relationship-indistress routine.
Still, the stars have moments that remind us why they’re stars, and there are sparks of comedic touches. Mostly, though, the story is filled with character “types,” and the dialogue and situations are only mildly amusing.
Grant and Parker play highly successful New Yorkers Paul and Meryl Morgan, a couple who are currently split up. He’s trying to make amends, but she’s reluctant.
They have a deep conversation on the street as it begins to rain, because this is a big-budget movie and they can afford “rain.”
But she has to hurry to show a client a property (she’s a real estate big shot with a knack for telling clients her life story), and Paul follows her.
They arrive at the property, only to witness the murder of her client — and be spotted by the killer. From there, they are forced into protective custody and promptly shipped off to Wyoming, where everyone wears cowboy hats, hunts, plays horseshoes and says “howdy.”
Paul and Meryl are taken in by their hosts, the local marshal, Clay Wheeler (everycowboy Sam Elliott, who just refuses to age) and his wife, Emma (a still radiant Mary Steenburgen).
Over the course of their forced seclusion, Paul and Meryl bond with the outdoorsy couple and come to terms with their own relationship, all while getting to know the aw-shucks charm of the locals and the naive quirks of the town (many secondary characters are particularly engaging).
It’s amiable stuff. And the leads eventually relax a bit, breathing some life into the tale.
But the whole thing could have benefited from a breath of fresh air.