by Linda Holmes
There is much to fear about Did You Hear About The Morgans?, the comedy opening this Friday starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker as an estranged couple who ... enter the Witness Protection Program? Apparently? The details are fuzzy. I suspect they are just as well remaining so.
The good news is that Hugh Grant looks to be playing a complete jerk in it.
But is he enough of a jerk? We wonder, after the jump.
Early in his career, of course, Grant did more fop work, playing the lovable doofus in movies like Four Weddings And A Funeral and even going all Austen-hero in Sense & Sensibility. He did the beleaguered, immature husband in the wretched Nine Months (with Julianne Moore! that movie had many victims!), and actually made quite a good warm romantic comedy, Notting Hill, with Julia Roberts.
But then he was in Bridget Jones's Diary, and many of us said, "AHA! He's supposed to be a jerk! Who knew?" Honestly, he's so dapper in that movie that you can sort of understand the appeal of him, especially at first -- and that's in a movie where the other guy is Colin Firth.
After that, most of his most enjoyable work, both respectable (About A Boy) and not very respectable (Two Weeks Notice), as well as in between (Music And Lyrics), has been somewhere on this jerk spectrum. There have been exceptions like Love, Actually, but for the most part, what makes Grant watchable is the way he wraps his lovely British charm around vaguely misanthropic, often baffled dialogue.
Now, this movie looks pretty unwatchable in many ways. How many movies with "enter the Witness Protection Program" in their plot descriptions are going anywhere promising? What is going on with Sarah Jessica Parker's hair? Is this the highest possible use of Mary Steenburgen? When city folk go to the country, don't both city folk and country folk usually wind up being insulted?
But I will say this: At least Hugh Grant looks like an insufferable, selfish jerk. Here's hoping he's not entirely redeemed.