Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) is an idealistic lawyer who believes in preserving community at all costs. George Wade (Hugh Grant) is a filthy rich corporate figurehead who is only concerned about his public image. When Lucy tries to convince George not to destroy a Coney Island community center he owns, he persuades her to come work as his private lawyer. The two are complete opposites, and George’s business and personal demands on Lucy’s time drive her nuts, and eventually drive her to quit. When her replacement turns out to be a younger, prettier woman (Alicia Witt), Lucy must reexamine her real feelings for George, and still try to convince him to save the center.
“Two Weeks Notice” (IMDb listing) is basically “The Sandra and Hugh Show,” with the two increasingly forgettable actors coasting on what remains of their respective personas for a full 90 minutes of dreadful comedy. Even “Jackass” had better conceived characters than this film. But why? Is it an innate, leisurely need to just goof around and hope it comes off as fun times for all? Virtually every scene in “Two Weeks Notice” is an excuse for Bullock and Grant to fool around with their dialog, to a point where I swear there must have been behind-the-scenes betting on which of them would crack up first. Or is it that the leads expect the audience to eat up every last morsel of their condescending attitudes toward their own appeal, and drop all attempts at providing actual storytelling and character realization? It’s all of the above and more.
Hugh Grant is the worst offender here, as this is the millionth time he’s played the stammering British bobblehead/suitor role. After working so hard to remind the world that he still matters as an actor with real performances in “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” and the terribly overlooked “About A Boy,” here is Grant again, running through the tired routines that went stale in 1995. It’s sad to see an actor attempt to cruise through an entire movie without one real moment of truth, but Grant achieves it. Even in an inconsequential romantic vehicle such as this, Grant’s smug performance is all wet.
On the other hand, Sandra Bullock produced this film, and carefully picked her novice director, Marc Lawrence, as well. So who’s really to blame? You get the feeling that Bullock knows her audience well, which is why she’s perfectly content giving them reworked versions of “While You Were Sleeping” and “Miss Congeniality.” Lawrence, who scripted this film as well as “Congeniality” and Bullock’s “Forces Of Nature,” doesn’t have anything to say with his picture (and his corporate music taste stinks as well, with the film using the oft-purchased songs “Respect” and “PapaŒs Got A Brand New Bag” on the soundtrack). He provides broad outlines for scenes, but neglects to tie anything together to form an actual motion picture. Honestly, can somebody please tell me the actual plot of this film?
After seeing how director Wayne Wang could bring a little heart and joy into the routine “Maid In Manhattan,” it kills me to see a similar film released a week later and not trying nearly as hard to do anything with itself. Both Bullock and Grant deserve a year-long time out before they try again to skate by on their deteriorating charismas.