December 24, 2009
Review - " Did You Hear About the Morgans? "
(in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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From the moment of the Morgans arrival at the Cody airport, the script pits the stereotypical depictions of snooty New
Yorkers (who can’t live without their Blackberry devices, bagels and good Chinese takeout) against the unsophisticated
country folk who gather at Annette’s diner for home cooking and watch bull riding for entertainment. Meryl steps off the plane
in a pair of high heels that would make Carrie Bradshaw coo, only to be met by Emma checking out the rapid-fire action on a
Sarah Jessica Parker plays Meryl Morgan, a boutique real estate agent who not-so-oddly resembles a certain “Sex in the
City” leading hussy. And Hugh Grant plays Paul Morgan, the cheeky husband who strayed and paid. The prickly couple
deals with life without Blackberrys, lattes and PETA parties. And through their ordeal, which includes two bear attacks - one
from a conservative crackpot played by Wilford Brimley and another by an actual bear - they learn why they fall in love in the
Fortunately the film doesn’t stay mired down
in these oversimplified portrayals. Alongside
jokes about mounted animal heads,
vegetarianism and being a Democrat in a
predominantly Republican state, the script
addresses the issues that are tearing this
young couple apart. But rather than getting
marriage advice from a trendy counselor in a
high-rise office, Paul and Meryl learn a thing
or two about devotion and fidelity from Clay
and Emma while splitting firewood and milking
cows. And though neither couple is ready to
embrace the others’ lifestyle, they do gain a
healthy respect for their similarities and
In the meantime, Paul and Meryl also get out of their own heads long enough to share their relevant expertise with the other
citizens of Ray and make some new friends along the way. While there are still plenty of serious concerns this film glosses
over in a comedic fashion (like a killer on the loose and issues of infertility and infidelity), “Did You Hear About the Morgans?”
provides a refreshingly positive message about marriage and the importance of living up to one’s vows.
“Did You Hear About the Morgans?” has its moments of near-pathos, as Paul and Meryl try to be honest with each other. In
the midst of what starts out as a verbal attack on Paul, Meryl talks about her fears of her own flaws, allowing Parker to show a
tender, vulnerable side. Grant is urbane and plays contrition appealingly. However, it’s hard to believe these two very
different personalities as a long-term couple. Worse, most of the jokes are at best mildly amusing rather than zingers, giving
us the heightened atmosphere of a comedy where disbelief can be suspended without the jokes that justify a remove from
reality. Filmmaker Lawrence also has the bad sense to introduce some third-act information that makes one character out to
be a hypocrite who has made us suffer through a great deal of complaining prior to the revelation. We can see what the aim
is here, but MORGANS would have to be a lot more lifelike for this twist to work as intended. One nice thing is that there are
no killing-animal gags in the film, much less any built around Meryl’s beliefs. If her vegetarianism isn’t as hilarious as it
appears meant to be, neither is it insulted. For that matter, Clay and Emma are depicted as salt of the Earth folks; the movie
may not be a great love story, but it does work as a perhaps-we-can-all-get-along tale more than we might anticipate.
Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Directed by: Marc Lawrence
Starring: Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sam Elliot, Mary
Steenburgen, Wilford Brimley, Michael kelly
Oh, the magic of the American West. No matter how screwed up
your life may be, simply hitch a ride to Wyoming and with the
wisdom of its "simple-folk" population and the dead silence of
nature, surely all of your problems will be solved.
In case you haven’t heard about the Morgans, they’re a high-
powered New York couple. She sells real estate. He is a lawyer.
They’ve been separated since Meryl found out about Paul’s
infidelity while he was on a business trip to L.A. She got the
apartment. He lives in a hotel.
Despite Paul’s profuse pleas for pardon, they haven’t lived
together for three months. Then one night, after an awkward
dinner date where they attempt to talk about their future, they
witness a man being murdered. Unfortunately, the killer (Michael
Kelly) sees them as well.
To protect the Morgans until they can testify in court, U.S.
Marshals (Kevin Brown, Steven Boyer, Sharon Wilkins) force
the two unhappy members of this marriage into the Witness
Protection Program. Their home-away-from-home is Ray,
Wyoming, where they temporarily live with Clay and Emma
Wheeler (Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen), the local law
Elliott and Steenburgen provide strong
support and the versatile Kelly, with very
little dialogue, makesus believe his hired gun
could go unnoticed in most environments.
The film is as predictable as they come - If
you've ever seen a romantic comedy you'll
see the ending coming a long way down the
trail. “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” is
not precisely good, but it has good aspects
to it. They may not be good enough for most
people to hear much about the movie, but
it's fine being a perfectly average 90-minute