Two Weeks Notice (review)

It’s no About a Boy, but if Two Weeks Notice has one saving grace for the nonfan of romantic comedies, it’s that Hugh Grant has rarely been as offhandedly charming as he is here as George Wade, billionaire cad. But writer/director Marc Lawrence’s entirely ordinary flick is all the more depressing in the end because it dangles hints of witty 1940s screwball classics before us only to snatch them back unfulfilled. There are brief moments of near classic repartee between Grant and Sandra Bullock’s (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood) Lucy Kelson, droll conversations that resonate with as much bitterness and pain as they do attraction, but instead of using the couple’s political and economic divides — he’s a rampaging real-estate developer; she’s a working-class, environmentally correct lawyer — as an opportunity not only for romantic confusion but cultural commentary, Lawrence opts for slapstick physicality and the humor of embarrassment that invites us to laugh at the very people we should be sympathizing with. Worse, he never allows Lucy the same kind of confidence and self-assuredness that a Katherine Hepburn or a Rosalind Russell character would have had 60 years ago: No matter how “high-powered” a lawyer Bullock’s Lucy is, she’s still “adorably” klutzy, lest she be too intimidating. And if Lucy’s forced mothering of George early on — picking out his clothes, picking out his dates, being at his beck and call 24 hours a day — weren’t bad enough, we’re treated to the disgusting, reactionary spectacle of a romantic climax in which Lucy apologizes to George for being so demanding as to have complained about such treatment. Unfortunately, Bullock’s enormous popularity playing this same character in film after film indicates that audiences have no problem with such an unappealingly retro view of a woman’s place.

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