“At The Movies” 12.23.09

 

This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my commentary on a film that opened this week at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :

 

“Did You Hear About The Morgans?” is the romantic comedy that the critics love to pan, claiming that it's formulaic, unimaginative, and clumsy; there's no chemistry between the characters, they're playing caricatures, anyway, and the whole premise has been done much better elsewhere.

Well, perhaps there is enough truth in all those criticisms to make you, dear viewer, shy away from this one as simply not worth your time.  And while it's true that there are many powerful holiday offerings competing with it, to take this little crumpet on its own terms would at least be worth a cup of warm tea.

            The trailers are already giving away the story line: a New York-to-the-core couple, embroiled in marital difficulty and headed for divorce, accidentally sees a Mob murder.  And to preserve them, the federal witness protection program transports them to....the middle of Wyoming .

Naturally, they both feel they have fallen off the end of the earth.  Yes, we get the bi-coastal prejudice against "The Heartland," and also the urban prejudice against the "country hicks."  But, to the movie's credit, the people who live in this little Wyoming town are not all idiotic bumpkins.  The laconic sheriff is Sam Elliot and his sharpshooting, cowgirl wife is Mary Steenburgen.  They harbor the hapless couple in their cabin by the creek, forbidding telephones, internet, or any contact with people from their "previous life." 

Predictably, our thoroughly cosmopolitan couple is aghast, and both fervently wish they were anywhere else.  But, a funny thing happens on the way to long walks in the countryside and target practice in the field, and eating together at the only diner in town:  they begin to understand the appeal of this place.  It's quiet, people know and appreciate each other, and they look out for one another.  Life could be a lot worse.  Not surprisingly, all this free time together also convinces the estranged couple that there might be something to salvage about their relationship, as well.

Sure, there are parts that are corny.  Even silly.  But this is, after all, lighthearted comedy.  Hugh Grant is always good with the one-liners.  Sarah Jessica Parker is also a veteran comic actor who knows when to play the foil.  So, at a superficial level, anyway, this movie works.  A few jokes about people from different parts of the country with different outlooks, a little nod to family values, and fighting through problems to make relationships work, all with a breezy sense of humor.  You could do a lot worse, despite what the cynical critics say.

 

This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93.5 KICK-FM