Dir: Marc Lawrence. US 2002. 102mins
The adorably klutzy Sandra Bullock and the self-deprecatingly charming Hugh Grant have always engendered enormous goodwill among movie-goers. That's lucky for writer and first-time director Marc Lawrence because without the couple's seemingly bullet-proof appeal, this predictable, utterly formulaic romantic comedy would be unbearable. The film has grossed more than $68.2m in three weeks in the US where it is now playing on 2,755 sites, a testament to the popularity of the stars and perhaps also to the dearth of light, stress-free romantic comedies on the current scene. The film should work similar magic in overseas territories, where Grant, Bullock and this genre of feature are popular, when it rolls out during the next few months.
Bullock plays lawyer and environmental activist Lucy Kelson, whose current cause is rescuing a neighbourhood community centre from the grasp of heartless elite development firm Wade Corporation, which plans to tear down the popular but down-scale centre and replace it with high-priced condominiums. Lucy marches into Wade's Manhattan headquarters to protest -- and walks out with a job as the firm's chief legal counsel, courtesy of George Wade (Grant), the exceedingly glib, shallow and charismatic half of the family conglomerate.
George is also incapable of making the most trivial decision by himself. He rings Lucy at all hours to ask her advice on where to eat dinner or what to wear on a date. Increasingly frustrated, Lucy tries to quit, only to discover that the contract which she so expertly drafted prevents her from taking a job anywhere else. Her only means of escape is finding an acceptable replacement for herself, but when she does, in the shape of Witt, she begins to have second thoughts.
Polar opposites, Lucy and George are made for each other, a fact which neither of them seems to recognise until the final few moments of the film. The fact this premise is as old as the hills is not a problem: rather, it is the film's uninspired plot and the contrived, overused array of comic pratfalls which prove so deadly. The obligatory drunk scene is embarrassing, but even worse is the scene when Lucy has to bend over to pick something off the floor, only to get her hair stuck in the zipper of George's trousers. Of course someone walks into the room and misconstrues what is happening.
Bullock and Grant are both actors whose on-screen personae vary little from film to film. And perhaps more than most actors, their own personalities are closely identified with the characters they portray on screen. Neither actor is called upon to stretch in Two Weeks Notice - and neither does. Yes, there is a certain chemistry between them, but the key reason the film succeeds as well as it does - or at all - is not because the two actors are so marvellous together but because, individually, each is so endearing.
Pro co: Castle Rock Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures, NPV Entertainment, Fortis Films
US dist: Warner Bros
Intl dist: Warner/Village Roadshow
Exec prods: Mary McLaglen, Bruce Berman
Prod: Sandra Bullock
Scr: Marc Lawrence
Cinematographer: Laszlo Kovacs
Prod des: Peter Larkin
Ed: Susan E Morse
Music: John Powell
Main cast: Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant, Alicia Witt