Two Weeks Notice Movie Review

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After starring in just a few comedies, Sandra Bullock has established herself as the go-to actress to play the loopy, disheveled, well-intentioned woman of today. Her characters may possess poise and beauty, but they're hidden beneath the exterior of a girl who prefers chili dogs and wiping her nose on her sleeve. Although the gimmick may be a little stale, Bullock continues to play the hell out of it, as she does with co-star Hugh Grant in Two Weeks Notice. This should come as satisfying news to moviegoers that helped Miss Congeniality earn over $105 million at the box office.

But Two Weeks Notice has appeal beyond being a Sandra Bullock vehicle or a standard romantic comedy. Although Bullock does have her routine primped and polished, Two Weeks Notice benefits from more: a snappy, likable script by writer/director Marc Lawrence (writer of Forces of Nature and Miss Congeniality) and a witty, near-flawless performance by Hugh Grant.

Grant is real estate magnate George Wade, a blueprint big city heel: He's a boldly charming, naturally handsome trust fund baby who'd take over the world if he could just find the map. Under pressure from his ruthless older brother (David Haig), George is urged to hire a new lead counsel who shows off brains rather than boobs. His matter-of-fact selection is Lucy Kelson (Bullock), a lefty liberal Harvard grad who's been known to hit the streets (literally) in protest of Wade-funded building demolitions. To Lucy, all the world should be a loving community center; to the Wade family, the planet should be covered in condos.

The path for Lucy and George is fairly predictable. She becomes a workaholic in the name of personal pride and a chance to make a difference. He becomes overly dependent on her organized ways and professional expertise. But Marc Lawrence bucks general convention by keeping things loose, letting this lovable pair flex their natural comedic muscles and enjoy a warm, unhurried repartee. Both Bullock and Grant -- Grant, especially -- have a comfortable way in delivering a smart line with simple ease. It would seem that Lawrence wrote for his two stars specifically, and was even savvy enough to let them riff now and again. When the laughs don't work, they easily fold into the dialogue; and when they do work, the humor is tops.

When Lawrence's script does revert to Bullock's flustered-but-confident girl-down-the-block shtick, it feels wedged in for the sake of fan expectation. There's one promising "we've all been there" situation in which our heroine is stuck in traffic in dire need of a restroom, but it soon deteriorates into cheap laughs. Some will find it cute, but the whole situation is beneath both Bullock and Grant.

Those physical laughs -- as if you need to see someone getting hit with a tennis ball for the umpteenth time -- undermines the smarter core of the film. More attention to the small moments between Bullock and Grant would have elevated the movie to one of the great comedies of 2002; instead we get a taste of that potential and still have to deal with a drunk Lucy unable to walk down a flight of stairs.

Notable features on the DVD include the heretofore unseen, climactic wedding, as well as a "behind the scenes" option that takes you to outtakes during your viewing of the film. A feature length commentary from the principals is awfully snoozy, though.

Here's a picture of some guy with Alicia Witt, whom Norm was so stupid as not to even mention in his review, even though she's got third billing! Norm is fired. Carry on. -Ed.

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Two Weeks Notice Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 2002

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