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Did You Hear about the Morgans? (2009)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/16/2010

All Ratings out of
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/15/2010

When I write a review, the process begins as I'm watching the movie. Before the film is over, I'm trying to construct not only my opinions, but the themes of my critique in my head. Sometimes, I walk away not knowing what I'm going to write. (This happens when a movie is unusually good and I can't find the words to say just how much I liked it.) However, by the time the end credits roll, more often than not, I know what I'm going to write. Did You Hear About the Morgans? is an anomaly. I can't think of another movie where I came away with so many ideas of what to say about the movie. So many that I don't know where to start. So, I'll begin with a synopsis of the story.

The titular couple in Did You Hear About the Morgans? are Paul (Hugh Grant) and Meryl Morgan (Sarah Jessica Parker), who live in Manhattan. He is a lawyer and she is in real estate and they are currently separated due to his infidelity. They often communicate through their assistants. Paul wants to reconcile and Meryl agrees to meet him for dinner. After the meal, as they are walking to Meryl's appointment, where they witness a murder. The killer (Michael Kelly) spots one of Meryl's ads and tries to break into her apartment. The U.S. Marshalls then decide to place the Morgans in the witness-protection program. They are shipped to Ray, Wyoming, where they meet their new caretakers, Clay (Sam Elliot) and Emma Wheeler (Mary Steenburgen). Paul and Meryl can't have any contact with their old friends or colleagues and there isn't much to do in the town. Thus, they are forced to take a new look at one another and try to decide if their marriage can be saved.

Did You Hear About the Morgans? comes from Writer/Director Marc Lawrence, who previously worked with Hugh Grant on Two Weeks Notice and Music and Lyrics. Neither of those movies are exactly classics, but I enjoyed them for what they were. I found Grant hilarious in both movies and I often find myself quoting his lines from the films. So, another go with Lawrence and Grant should be good right? No, it should be great as the third time is the charm, right? Wrong. This movie simply doesn't have the energy that inhabited those other movies. Why? I place the blame clearly on Sarah Jessica Parker. There is simply no chemistry between her and Grant. At the outset, we're supposed to dislike Grant because he cheated on her, but she's so shrill, it's difficult to blame him. I've never thought of Parker as having range, and she shows none here, as she's essentially playing Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. We've seen her "I love New York" and "I can't function in the country" schtick before and it seems very worn out here.

My second gripe about the movie is the lack of originality in the story. Hasn't this been done many times before? It would be easy to point to Witness as a blue-print for this movie, as that film had a city dweller who had to move to the country to protect a witness. But, that wasn't a comedy, was it? How about the 1997 film For Richer or Poorer, where Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley leave the city to hide out with the Amish? Actually, Did You Hear About the Morgans? most closely resembles the episode of Family Guy where Chris witnesses a crime and the family is forced to move to the rural south. That show ended with the criminal learning the Griffin's whereabouts and going to kill Chris. Hmm...I wonder if something similar happens in Did You Hear About the Morgans??

My final issue with Did You Hear About the Morgans? is its overall attitude. In the extra features, Lawrence states that he doesn't like leaving his apartment, much less New York City. That kind of vibe permeates this movie. This is the sort of Hollywood film which acts as if it's a revelation to tell us that not only do people live in the rural areas of the United States, but they are happy there and some of them are actually intelligent. Movies like this bug me because they show that Hollywood easily forgets that many Americans live in areas such as those portrayed in the film. Filmmakers like Lawrence get so caught up in their love for New York that they forget (or don't know) that many are content not living in the Big Apple. The irony here is that the movie probably thinks that it's saluting small-town America, when it's actually insulting it.

Is Did You Hear About the Morgans? a total disaster? No. When the movie does focus on Grant, he's able to inject some of his trademark dry wit. Steenburgen and Elliot are good in their roles, and they have some good lines. If you can ignore Parker and the weak script which telegraphs each plot point like no movie that I've ever seen, then this is worth a rental.

Did You Hear About the Morgans? can quite get the hang of bear repellent on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc carries an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image here is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. One of the advantages of Blu-ray Disc is supposed to be increased depth of field, but we rarely see it. However, it's obvious here. The objects in the foreground are clearly separate from those in the background, creating a quasi-3-D effect which makes us feel as if we could step into the scene. The colors look great and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a rom-com, we aren't inundated with theater sound here, but the track works well enough. The stereo effects are well-placed and detailed. The surround sound effects come into play with crowd scenes and musical cues. We do get some nice subwoofer from gunfire and bear growls.

The Did You Hear About the Morgans? Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Marc Lawrence and Grant & Parker. "Location, Location, Location!" (18 minutes) is a making-of featurette which contains many comments from Lawrence. The piece examines the story, the casting, the sets, and the use of New York and New Mexico. "Cowboys and Cosmopolitans" (8 minutes) gives and overview of the cast and characters. "Park Avenue Meets the Prairie" (5 minutes) introduces us to Christopher Peterson, who designed the wide range of clothes for the film. "A Bear of a Scene" (5 minutes) takes us on-set for the scene involving the bear. We get two DELETED SCENES which run about 5 minutes. There is a 7-minute reel of OUTTAKES. "International Special" (14 minutes) is a longer-than-normal EPK.

Review Copyright 2010 by Mike Long