First, they tackled romance in corporate America with 'Two Weeks Notice,' which wasn't all that bad. Then they found redemption within the music industry in 'Music and Lyrics,' creating a comedy that was only slightly better (with catchy tunes to boot). For their third outing, Marc Lawrence and Hugh Grant reunite to rekindle the flames of a concept that never had much spark to begin with. Transforming the witness protection program into a marriage counseling camp, Grant is paired with Sarah Jessica Parker in 'Did You Hear About the Morgans?' Sadly, the bigger question related to this disastrous union is how anyone thought this was a good idea. From the writer of 'Miss Congeniality', this fish out of water project should have been annulled even before the cast said "I do."
Meryl (Parker) and Paul (Grant) Morgan are a successful Manhattan couple who recently separated because of Paul's infidelity. While Meryl tries to move on with her life, Paul makes it clear he is remorseful and wishes to get his wife back. Then, while out on a date to talk things over, they witness the murder of Meryl's client, inadvertently turning them into the killer's (Michael Kelly) next target. Federal marshals place the troubled couple into protective custody and transport them to Wyoming, where they live under the temporary care of the Wheelers (Mary Steenburgen and Sam Elliot). Meanwhile, the Morgans' assistants (Elisabeth Moss and Jesse Liebman) desperately search for their employers without knowing the killer has them under surveillance.
'Did You Hear About the Morgans?' takes predictability to new and ever more transparent levels of the contrived and strained. While the plot is as banal as they come, the story itself arranges jokes in such an obvious fashion that we could take a stopwatch to them. As if coming fresh from a screenwriting course, the script plays the formula by the numbers - literally 2 + 2 = 4. By which I mean, Lawrence places two setup chuckles at the beginning of the second act. They are later recalled for two more jokes meant to be laugh-out-loud funny (but they're not even). And this should ideally set up four more plot points that rationally bring the rest of the 100 minutes to one explosive finale of lameness. Is it coherent? Yes, but coherency should not be this excruciatingly monotonous.
Let me break it down it for you into clearer specifics. Because honestly, are you ever really going to watch this? I don't really need to worry about spoilers, right? When the Morgans - oops, sorry, the Fosters first arrive in Wyoming, the couple finds a poster about bear attacks. Later at the bargain barn, they buy bear mace and instructions on what to do when coming across a bear. There's your first two. Lo and behold, they encounter a bear, and we're given two more jokes on them trying to follow instructions and on the improper use of mace. This then takes us to a doctor's visit, which marks the beginning of the killer discovering the couple's location, the Morgans confronting their marital troubles, rekindling their marriage, and making local friendships - also a necessary component for the inevitable conclusion. And there you have your final four. Simple math, huh?
About the only saving grace in the entire production is a subplot that explains how the couple's separation originally came about. Their problems are unexpectedly honest and authentically weighing. Even their lack of communication as a married couple is brought into question - being big city folk with assistants and the latest highfalutin techno gizmos surely takes its toll. If this were a completely different film, their emotional scars might be worth something. But as it is, all seriousness is wasted on what starts as a light romance (with Grant's signature wit to match) but suddenly turns into a wacky screwball comedy. Things only keep progressing into the conventional, and never offer the slightest bit of surprise, let alone a single laugh. The bigger question just may be, "Who cares about the Morgans?"
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Housed in the standard blue keepcase, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings 'Did You Hear About the Morgans?' to Blu-ray on a Region Free BD50 disc. After three skippable trailers for 'Dear John', 'The Young Victoria', and 'The Back-Up Plan', viewers are greeted with the standard menu option while motion clips play in the background.
Sony debuts the 'Morgans?' with an adequate but often attractive 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer (2.35:1). For a newer release, I half expected better, considering the Wyoming locales (actually, the movie was filmed in New Mexico) provide a near-reference picture quality. Unfortunately, it is not meant to be, as the video is rather inconsistent with large segments of the film looking much softer than its best parts, which again only seem limited to the sunny outdoors of the country. The landscape shots display terrific contrasts that maintains wonderful distinct clarity and visibility in the far distance. Colors are, of course, lush and warmly rendered as they should be for a romantic comedy.
Where we encounter problems are in several scenes at night and other darker portions of the picture. Although delineation is fairly strong and dimensionality is nice, black levels are a bit wonky, frequently coming off as a very dark gray but suddenly looking deep and punchy in many sequences. Flesh tones are also somewhat odd, with actors regularly wavering between flushed or very rosy. In spite of all this, there is much to appreciate on this high-def presentation of 'Did You Hear About the Morgans?', which fans will surely see as outweighing any of the negatives mentioned above.
Sony also throws in a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that's slightly better than the picture quality and makes for an attractive audio presentation. Vocals are distinct and precise from beginning to end while the other channels create an open and expansive soundstage. Dynamic range is clean and well-defined, giving the lossless mix an enjoyable acoustical presence. The lower frequencies don't make much of an impression - not that they're necessary for this type of genre - but the design allows for some effective bass in certain scenes. Surround speakers are surprisingly more active than initially anticipated, with light ambient effects throughout, generating a satisfying soundfield. Overall, the track takes advantage of the higher resolution and keeps viewers engaged. Only, it's nothing truly immersive or altogether memorable. It simply serves the movie well and is better than most in the same genre.
For this Blu-ray edition of 'Did You Hear About the Morgans?' the compilation of supplements is the same as the day-and-date DVD release. Only interested parties would want to venture into this neck of the woods.
Hugh Grant is reunited with Marc Lawrence for their third romcom feature with Sarah Jessica Parker also in the lead. 'Did You Hear About the Morgans?' fails in both the romance and comedy departments, instead delivering an abysmal mess of a plot which plays everything too strictly by the numbers. The Blu-ray comes with good picture quality, a better audio presentation, and a decent selection of bonus material. For fans, the purchase will be satisfying, everyone else will want to avoid this comedic disaster.