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Sunday, 2 September 2018

Retro Review: Two Weeks Notice (2002)

Two Weeks Notice
Cast: Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock, Alicia Witt, Robert Klein, Heather Burns
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $199 million 

Plot: A lawyer decides that she's used too much like a nanny by her boss, so she walks out on him

'Rom-Com With Two Improbable Star Hook-Ups That Is A Bit Of A Treat'

After penning Sandra Bullock's former efforts, the entertaining & box office smash that is Miss Congeniality and the not that impressive box office failure, Forces of Nature, Marc Lawrence once again took another stab at the romantic comedy and this time, he had the directorial reigns with his star actress, Bullock being the centre of the spotlight, once more.

Filmed in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, filming of Two Weeks Notice relocated from Toronto to New York, thus becoming one of the first movies to be shot entirely in the Big Apple.  

George is an estate agent from London now based in New York, who has a history of hiring and sleeping with female attorneys based on their looks, rather than skills. When his latest attorney fouls up, George's brother insists that he hires a well-educated, Harvard graduate of Law as the company's chief counsel. Which is where Lucy comes into the picture: she is an impassionate conservationist, yet also comes across as scatterbrained, who confronts and grills George on the company's plans to demolish a community centre and to replace them with condos. 

She does well in her job, orders Chinese takeout on the phone, yet baulks at the idea of being George's personal assistant, and so she gives him Two Weeks Notice, but with George, he is not going to let her go that easily. When Lucy is replaced by June, she feels envious and as she tries to move on, both her & George's feelings for each other transition from workers to potential lovebirds.

I am going to say this: I wasn't going to like this, one bit. I was expecting to well, not hate it, but have me rolling and perhaps gorging my eyes out and thinking it would be a typical, sappy, treacly rom-com. To my surprise, I sort of liked Two Weeks Notice and I usually don't care for Hugh Grant, but I enjoyed him here with his dry, deadpan and self-depreciating wit and style utilised effectively and his rapport with Sandra Bullock complemented each other, more so than I did with Grant and Julia Roberts in Notting Hill. The result is one of a sense of friendship, rather than romantic and leading to sex. Although in every movie he is in, it just seems as though but for Remains of the Day and Extreme Measures, Grant plays the same type of character as a reprehensible, deadpan British posh buffoon in the straight man role, which he revels in. In Two Weeks Notice, he once again reprises that role, and for someone with whom I don't usually enjoy the other films he has been in, here, he was likeable and his character had charm in places.  

It takes a whole lot for romantic comedy films or a romantic comedy film for me to win me over, and yet it remains firmly grounded and it has heart in places too, and Two Weeks Notice has that and is also pleasantly watchable and is not too romantically sappy and sickly that will make people gag. But my liking for certain rom-coms is dependant upon the two leads: do I buy into their onscreen partnership and does it work for me, personally that I enjoy it? This is something I ponder when I watch these movies. 

Compared to The Proposal, Two Weeks Notice is a far superior Sandra Bullock rom-com vehicle and much like with Miss Congeniality and Demolition Man, she displays a great knack for comedy and humour and making her character quirky, awkward in a nice way and who has an endearing quality as well that comes through. 

As it went on, but for 1 or 2 lull scenes, I think I enjoyed Two Weeks Notice far more than I should have and more so than I had not anticipated. Sure this is typically cliched romantic fluff, but it is harmless fluff and both Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock didn't disappoint in their respective roles. The casting is the key in these types of films but at the same time, with other actors and actresses who lack that 'something' & chemistry to bring those characters to life that Bullock and Grant did, the movie would have not worked well and it would have been potentially terrible. 

The supporting and remaining characters, on the other hand, are complete duds and forgettable as they are either snarky or catty or underutilised in favour of more Bullock/Grant screentime. I also felt that it needed a bit more depth, which the story never went as deep with and bring out more of that tension between George and Lucy. Mark Feuerstein has the role of being Lucy's boyfriend, yet he rarely shows up onscreen and survives in one-sided, offscreen phone conversations, whilst he is off on his Greenpeace missions. 

This is wittier, quirkier and functions more like a comedy based movie/movie that has a workplace backdrop, in contrast to the sentimental, mushy fluff that generally tends to dominate Rom-coms, thus making Two Weeks Notice ideal and appealing for non-fans and lovers of this subgenre. 

Final Verdict:

Two Weeks Notice may not bring anything new to the formula, but it's watchable, likeable and amusing in places and doesn't go overboard with the romantic element of the movie, but rather building up the romantic 'will they?/won't they?' mystery, culminating in an ending that is in every other rom-com. 

It's pleasant, nice and it's all right and trades in the schmaltz for wit and but for the final act, which feels kind of tacked on and the romance part never truly developed, Two Weeks Notice succeeds in some comedic bits and with the supposed payoff being its predictability, it still manages to hold its own, nevertheless. 

Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant bring that sharpness, wit and humanity to their respective roles and exchanges and much to the film's effect, through its tried and tested formula that has been replicated many times over and over and to my surprise, it actually worked. 

Two Weeks Notice is one of those instances where it vastly exceeds the sludge and dross that passes itself off as rom-coms and one I'd take over many of the overrated, overhyped and popular rom-coms that made the rounds during the 1990s & 2000s (Pretty Woman, Notting Hill, Love Actually to name but a couple). As well as exhibiting the qualities and charms of the lead pairing of Sandy and Hugh. 

Henceforth, this film wasn't bad, at all. 


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