The right actors, wrong screenplay

What possible reason was there for anyone to make Did You Hear About the Morgans?

Hugh Grant

Did You Hear About The Morgans?

One and a half stars

Rating: PG-13 (for some sexual references and momentary violence).

What possible reason was there for anyone to make Did You Hear About the Morgans? Or should I say “remake,” because this movie has been made over and over again, and oh, so much better. Feuding couple from Manhattan forced to flee town, find themselves Fish Out of Water in Strange New World, meet Colorful Characters, survive Slapstick Adventures, end up Together at the End.

The only part of that formula that still works is The End.

I grant you Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker evoke charm in the right screenplay.

This is the wrong screenplay.

I concede that Sam Elliott is always welcome, except in that one eerie role he played without his mustache.

I agree Mary Steenburgen is a merry and fetching lass.

I realize yet once again the durable validity of Siskel’s Question: Is this movie more entertaining than a documentary of the same actors having lunch?

Grant and Parker play Paul and Meryl Morgan, a wealthy Manhattan couple, childless, but they hope to adopt.

This virtually guarantees a cute little orphan in the final reel. She is Manhattan’s No. 1 “boutique Realtor.”

One night they’re going together to show one of her multimillion-dollar properties when they witness her client being pushed from its balcony by a mean-looking villain.

He gets a good look at them. It was an important murder. Of course they must be sealed inside the Witness Protection Program and shipped out West, to where the men are men and the women are happy of it. In this strange new world where the men wear cowboy hats and the women bake, will they find themselves in a rodeo? Let’s put it this way.

The close-up of a local rodeo poster and the matching shot of Hugh Grant squinting at it virtually guarantee that.

Saints preserve us! Not another one of those movies where Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker end up as the front and back halves of the rodeo clowns’ cow suit!

What’s that you say? This is the first one where they’ve been inside the cow? Does it feel that way to you? What’s that you say? You bet they’ll be chased by a bear? Come on, now: Surely only one of them!

Paul and Meryl (unusual name, that; where did they find it?) end up as the houseguests of Clay and Emma Wheeler (Elliott and Steenburgen), the local sheriff and his deputy. Now that’s clever thinking!

Where better to hide Protected Witnesses than as the guests of the local law enforcement couple. Of course, Clay and Emma are hard to spot as they patrol on their horses with rifles and cowboy hats and mustaches and whatnot.

Paul and Meryl are dudes without a ranch.

The small town embraces them. It’s in Wyoming, I think someone said, and of course it has all of Wyoming’s friendliness: The locals turn out with open arms, as they always do when two East Coast Elites hit town and start asking people in the local cafe to refrain from smoking.

Why, look! There, at the next table! It’s Wilford Brimley!

Smoking!

It’s not every day one movie offers the two most famous mustaches in Hollywood.

Well, you’ll never be able to guess what happens then.

And whether the villain turns up.

And whether anyone is chased by a bear. And whether Paul and Meryl go to the rodeo.

And what kind of an animal they wind up playing the front and back halves of.

And whether they adopt a cute little orphan.

And whether that mean old Wilford Brimley ends up grudgingly liking them after all.

And whether he ever stops smoking. But one thing’s for sure. You’ll feel like you’ve already heard about the Morgans.

Roger Ebert is a syndicated Chicago Sun-Times movie critic.

Just Posted

WATCH: UCP leader Jason Kenney makes stop in Red Deer

A rally was held in the north end of the city Saturday afternoon

Good-bye ice and snow, hello potholes on Red Deer roads

City workers will be spending 20 hours a day on various road repairs

Fog advisory in effect for Red Deer, central Alberta

Heavy fog is affecting visibility for central Alberta drivers Saturday morning. A… Continue reading

Climate change’s impact on outdoor hockey discussed in Red Deer

Red Deer River Watershed Alliance held a forum Friday at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

Collision between Red Deer transit bus and truck investigated by RCMP

No one on bus was hurt, truck driver had minor injuries

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Montreal priest stabbed during mass leaves hospital; suspect to be charged

MONTREAL — A Catholic priest who was stabbed as he was celebrating… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $35.7 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $35.7 million jackpot… Continue reading

New report details impact of proposed NS spaceport in event of explosion or fire

HALIFAX — The head of a company proposing to open Canada’s only… Continue reading

Quebec man convicted in Mafia-linked conspiracy deported to Italy

MONTREAL — Michele Torre, a Quebec man convicted in 1996 for his… Continue reading

Republican Karl Rove says conservatives need more than simplistic slogans

OTTAWA — Legendary Republican campaign strategist Karl Rove, known for his no-holds-barred… Continue reading

B.C. hospital’s use as shelter ‘clarion call’ about housing crisis, says mayor

The 10-bed regional hospital that serves the medical needs of 5,000 people… Continue reading

Puddle splashing: A rite of spring

Is there anything more fun than driving through water-filled potholes in the… Continue reading

Special evaluations can help seniors cope with cancer care

Before she could start breast cancer treatment, Nancy Simpson had to walk… Continue reading

Most Read