For many of us, romantic comedies are like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, providing comfort food and simple consistency in a messy world. We relax and enjoy the familiar experience, knowing that there will be no discomforting surprises or soul-searching involved. This simple fare can be especially welcome during the frenetic holiday seasons, so if you like the taste of romantic comedies, then “Two Weeks Notice” might just be the meal for you.
Let’s be clear from the start, “Two Weeks Notice” is not a great romantic comedy. There are no real sparks between leads Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, some of the humor you can foresee (and start wincing at) long before it arrives, and, if you have seen the preview, you have a pretty good sense of where the movie is going.
From the moment the opening credits roll –complete with childhood snapshots of the lead characters and the Counting Crows’ neutral cover of Joni Mitchell’s classic “Big Yellow Taxi”—we know we are in familiar territory. All that remains to be seen is who Cupid’s lucky victims will be this time and what odd turns of fate will keep them apart until the credits roll again.
Enter stage left Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock), who in the first scene is bailed out of jail by her approving parents (Dana Ivey and Robert Klein) for protesting the demolition of an old theater. Clever us, we know that she is the good-hearted liberal cause girl in the sensible shoes. A proud denizen of Brooklyn, Lucy is a bright legal aide, fighting the just fight and protesting demolitions in her spare time. Her fight is about to take her up against the Wade Corporation.
Enter stage right George Wade (Hugh Grant), who is the “face” of the Wade Corporation, working in tandem with the “brain”, his financially savvy but less attractive brother, Howard (David Haig). George is immensely wealthy, self-absorbed and oblivious. Challenged by Howard to find a Chief Counsel with more upstairs, womanizing George sets off to hire a genuine Harvard Law graduate. Guess who he finds?
Lucy dedicates herself 110% to her job, which, as the months go by, she comes to realize is 109% more than what she needs to do to fulfill her role as a glorified baby-sitter to her pleasure-seeking ward. It is when Lucy decides to quit and George begins questioning a life without Lucy that the “romantic” part of “romantic comedy” is supposed to appear.
Where the comedy of this movie is consistently strong, it is the romance that is even less believable than the embarrassing baseball game and the unnecessary bathroom scene in the recreational vehicle. Neither Lucy nor George seem entirely human, with their simple characters writ large but they have a lovely ability to laugh at and with one another, so perhaps those romantic sparks are not really necessary. After all and caveats aside, none of the movies shortcomings will really matter to those with a craving for something sweet and light.
Parents should know that this movie has a brief scene of potty humor, in addition to references to casual relationships and infidelity. Two of the characters participate in a non-explicit game of strip chess. A woman’s head gets stuck on a man’s pants in a suggestive way.
Families who see this movie should talk about how Lucy and George are molded by their families’ (very different) expectations. Lucy says that she will never live up to her mother’s expectations, how does this drive her behavior? Why does George say that it is worse when one’s family has no expectations at all? How do the characters change as they are influenced by one another? Are these changes always for the good?
Families who enjoyed this film might consider watching other light comedies with Hugh Grant or Sandra Bullock such as “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Notting Hill”, and, “Miss Congeniality”. For those who want to laugh and watch sparks fly between leads, movies such as “His Gal Friday” and, more recently, “The Hudsucker Proxy” might appeal.