Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"TWO WEEKS NOTICE" (2002) Review




"TWO WEEKS NOTICE" (2002) Review

If I must be brutally honest, the age of Hollywood romantic comedies had bid its farewell a long time ago. Although the film industry has released a small share of movies in this genre in the past thirty or forty years, a good number of them simply failed to measure up to the numerous romantic comedies that came from the Hollywood studios - especially between 1934 and 1965.

But . . . there have been a handful of these comedies released in the last thirty years that managed to catch my eye. One of them is the 2002 comedy called "TWO WEEKS NOTICE". Written and directed by Marc Lawrence, the movie starred Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. "TWO WEEKS NOTICE" was a box office hit, but it attracted mix reviews from the critics. I have only read one review of the film, in which its writer described the film as flaccid. But after watching the film, I do not think I could agree with this assessment.

"TWO WEEKS NOTICE" is about the relationship between a liberal lawyer named Lucy Kelson, who specializes in environmental law in New York City; and George Wade, an immature billionaire real estate tycoon who has almost everything and knows almost nothing. When Lucy meets George in an attempt to stop the destruction of a Coney Island community center, he hires her to replace his former Chief Counsel on the promise to protect the community center if she agrees to work for him. Within a year, Lucy not only ends up working for George's company, but also giving advice on all aspects of his life . . . literally becoming his indispensable aide. But when George tricks her into leaving a friend's wedding because he is unable to choose an outfit for an event, Lucy decides she has had enough and gives him her two weeks' notice of resignation. However, matters become difficult when George blocks Lucy's attempt to find another job. When he finally agrees to find a replacement, George considers an attractive law school graduate named June Carver . . . and Lucy is surprised to find herself becoming jealous.

Remember when I had earlier stated that I disagree with one critic's opinion that "TWO WEEKS NOTICE" was flaccid? I am sticking with my assessment. It is not the kind of comedy that produces belly laughs. Although, I admit there were quite a few in the movie. And if I must be brutally honest, it is not exactly what I would call an original romantic comedy. I have come across movies with a similar style or characterizations. But I still managed to enjoy the movie. A lot. Original or not, I liked Marc Lawrence's story very much. I thought he did a very good job in not only developing Lucy and George's characterizations, but also their relationship. The movie featured some very funny scenes - including George's first meeting with Lucy's father and disapproving mother, George's interruption of the wedding that Lucy was attending, their night at a New York Mets game, Lucy's attempt to manipulate George's brother (the senior executive in the Wade organization) into firing her, George's mistaken assumption that one of the job applicants was pregnant, and the entire tennis party sequence that ended with George helping Lucy find a bathroom or restroom on the road back to New York City. Damn, that is a lot. But the best thing I liked about "TWO WEEKS NOTICE" were the leads Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. I do not know if they ever liked each other behind the scenes (and honestly, I do not care), but it seemed obvious to me that on screen, Bullock and Grant were magic together.

"TWO WEEKS NOTICE" was not perfect. Like I had earlier stated, it was not particularly original. Neither was John Powell's score. I enjoyed the songs not written by Powell a lot more than I did his music. And I am still confused over how George's older brother, the humorless Howard Wade, managed to threatened George's loss of funds if the latter did not drop the project to save the Coney Island community center. I suppose other critics were able to find more faults with the movie. However, this was the best I could do.

I have already praised Bullock and Grant's on screen chemistry. But I never said anything else about their performances. Lucy Kelson is one of my favorite roles ever portrayed by Bullock. On paper, a hardcore liberal attorney might seem like an ideal role. Thankfully, Bullock did not portray Lucy as ideal. She skillfully included many of Lucy's faults as well, making the character a fully fleshed character. On the other hand, George Wade IS my favorite Hugh Grant role. Before "TWO WEEKS NOTICE", Grant had became known for his collection of stammering, yet charming characters that made him a star. He broke out of this rut with his portrayal of a womanizing rogue in 2001's "BRIDGET JONES' DIARY". George Wade was a interesting mixture of his stammering charmers and his roguish character from the latter film. More importantly, he did an excellent job of developing George's character from this likable, yet self-involved man to one who had to learn to grow up in order to be with a woman he truly loved.

"TWO WEEKS NOTICE" also featured some excellent supporting performances. Both Robert Klein and Dana Ivey were wonderful as Lucy's parents - the easy going and slightly sarcastic Larry Kelson and the no nonsense Ruth Kelson, who proved to be even more hardcore than her daughter. Alicia Witt gave a charming performance as Lucy's possible replacement, who forced the other woman to face her true feelings about George. Dorian Missick was rather funny as George's friend and chauffeur, Tony. He was especially hilarious in one scene in which his character tries to explain the "mystery of women" to George. Francie Swift gave a brief, yet funny performance as George's bitchy soon-to-be ex-wife. And both David Haig and Charlotte Maier proved one could be funny while portraying George's humorless and staid brother and sister-in-law, Howard and Lauren Wade.

I suspect I am among the minority who genuinely like "TWO WEEKS NOTICE". But you know what? Who cares? There is no law that I have to agree with every movie critic or the opinion of every film fan that catches my attention. I enjoyed "TWO WEEKS NOTICE" very much. I enjoyed its story and humor, thanks to Marc Lawrence's screenplay and direction. I enjoyed László Kovács' beautiful photography of New York City and I especially enjoyed the performances of the cast led by Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. I enjoyed "TWO WEEKS NOTICE" and I feel that is nothing to feel ashamed about.

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