Published Dec 17, 2009Somewhere in the middle of Did You Hear About the Morgans?, the latest rom-com from Music & Lyrics and Two Weeks Notice director Marc Lawrence, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sam Elliott share a tender moment while milking cows ― by hand, over wooden floorboards, because it's apparently 1890 in Wyoming.
What's special about this scene isn't the fish-out-of-water comedy that comes from a New Yorker milking a cow, but rather that the cinematographer chose to focus on the cow's vagina while Parker babbles about relationships over to the right of the screen. Someone in film school might assume this was an arty attempt to represent our female protagonist's maternal battles, but, really, it seems like the crew was genuinely more interested in the cow's vagina than whatever it was Carrie Bradshaw was going on about.
This is essentially the feeling throughout the film. It is exceedingly awkward, seemingly unfinished, incompetently shot and edited, potentially improvised, Republican, bogged down by dead air and dreadfully paced. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to learn that the entire thing was an elaborate joke.
Summed up concisely in its trailer, Morgans follows recently separated couple Meryl (Parker), a PETA-supporting real-estate guru, and Paul (Hugh Grant), a British lawyer, to Wyoming for witness protection after they observe a violent crime. Since their wounds are fresh, and they are implicitly high maintenance, the rest of the film features generic bickering and shenanigans involving farm animals and guns. That's about it.
Given that both characters are essentially one-note, "city folk" stereotypes, unfamiliar with bulk shopping emporiums and perplexed by wildlife, their conversations are about as flat and disengaging as anything seen on daytime soaps. Meryl yells, "You cheated on me!" Paul replies, "I know, and I'm sorry." To which Meryl says, "Well I don't accept your apology," again moving onto "You cheated on me," and so on, until someone is accused of smelling like a burrito.
This bland repetition is a problem when the film pivots on audience investment in the romantic outcome. Heck, not only are we indifferent to their lovey-dovey woes, there's the quiet hope that the villain (a character never really explained) will just shoot them both in the head so we need not suffer their tedium any longer.
While Marc Lawrence's other films wouldn't exactly be classified as "genius," they were at least watchable and occasionally amusing. Did You Hear About the Morgans? is so terrible it's actually shocking. (Sony)