Two Weeks Notice

on December 20, 2002 by Sheri Linden
Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant do their reliable shtick in this mild screwball wannabe, a painless formula run-through that's decidedly lacking in tension--sexual or otherwise. The story of a mismatched couple who are destined for each other but just don't see it will click with audiences seeking substanceless diversion, or a change of pace from year-end heavyweight titles. Those who prefer to be challenged will stay away, wisely.

A key problem in "Two Weeks Notice" is that, for all their differences, the central duo have an easy rapport from the get-go. Lucy's a lawyer and political crusader, raised by left-wing activists (Robert Klein and Dana Ivey, well cast). George is the mega-developer she cuts a deal with in order to prevent the demolition of a Coney Island community center. Because he's desperate for a new corporate counsel, that deal includes a high-paying job for her, which quickly intrudes upon her every waking--and sleeping--hour. Only when Lucy's about to leave do attorney and magnate discover their latent romance. The arrival on the scene of her ambitious, pretty replacement (Alicia Witt) serves as a further catalyst. The story travels its predictable trajectory pleasantly enough but without the requisite verve. An eleventh-hour attempt at psychologizing makes no sense: To equate Lucy's social conscience with an inability to have a relationship is weak at best because she's so likable and self-deprecating, and it's problematic in a script that uses her passion for justice as a meet-cute plot point.

Marc Lawrence, who scripted the hit Bullock vehicle "Miss Congeniality," here makes his directorial debut, with uneven results. Much of the time there's a nice dry wit to his script, Bullock and Grant delivering the cracks with understated flair--these are two clever, funny individuals, and they know it. But there are also such pointless, cringe-inducing elements as an extended toilet-related sequence whose only purpose seems to be as lead-in to a helicopter ride over the New York skyline (a scene that pays tribute to the Chrysler Building and makes no mention of the World Trade Center). "Two Weeks" was one of the first major productions to shoot in the Big Apple post-9/11, and with its non-condescending emphasis on outer-borough culture, it's a valentine to the city, however tepid. With his flat, uninspired visuals, even master cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs can't set the pulse racing. On-the-nose song choices underline the action with annoying literalness. Starring Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant and Alicia Witt. Directed and written by Marc Lawrence. Produced by Sandra Bullock. A Warner Bros. release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for some sex-related humor. Running time: 101 min

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