Paul and Meryl Morgan (Grant and Parker) have separated. On the night when he takes her out in an attempt to reunite, the pair witness a murder. With the killer on their trail, theyre sent into witness protection in a sleepy Wyoming town, where theyre f
There’s a school of thought — quite a big school, with class capacity higher than government targets — that says Hugh Grant is able to play only one role: the self-effacing Englishman with a charming inability to get a sentence out without frequent pause for looking unsure that he should even have started. Probably true, but who cares when he does it so well? Clint Eastwood is always hacked off with the world. Stephen King’s written an unhealthy amount of horror. George Stubbs never painted a great picture of a cow...
So, whatever you imagine you’re going to get from a rom-com in which Grant plays a British lawyer forced to go into witness protection in Hicksville with his estranged New Yorker wife, that’s exactly what you’re going to get. And it’s sort of comforting. He tries to be polite to rednecks. He always carries instructions on evading bear attack and then resorts to blustery chitchat when actually confronted by one. He strives to win his wife back via the medium of jogging. The material’s far from the best he’s worked with — frankly, it’s not even close — but you couldn’t ask him to do much more with it.
Sarah Jessica Parker isn’t so reliable. She’s a talented comic actress, but she can seem brittle on screen and doesn’t have the immediacy of some of Grant’s other recent leading ladies (you don’t warm to her as quickly as a Bullock or a Barrymore). It takes a long while for the chemistry between her and Grant to achieve even the slightest fizz, but it comes eventually in a wooing (or whatever you kids call wooing these days) scene that squishes in a high concentration of laughs and sweetness that should have been eked out across the rest of the film.
Comedically, it’s, well, fine. There aren’t any lines that stick in the head after the lights come up, but there aren’t any terrible thunkers either. It saunters right down the middle of the road, inspiring neither enough emotion to truly love it, nor enough passion to hate it, just the odd titter and a feeling of relief whenever Sam Elliott sidles on as — what else? — a kindly law man with a big moustache (Sam Elliott being the cinematic equivalent of a car airbag, assurance that we’re all likely to come out of this okay). It’s completely vanilla, devoid of surprise; the sort of film to see if you’re passing by and it happens to be raining.
Neither good nor bad. Scales dizzying new heights of okay. Aims for mediocrity... and nails it.