Did You Hear About the Morgans?

Sarah Jessica Parker (Meryl) and Hugh Grant (Paul)

I wasn’t sure whether I would like [Did You Hear About the Morgans?](http://www.didyouhearaboutthemorgans.com/), the latest romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant opposite the American actress _du jour_ (in this case, Sarah Jessica Parker). Ultimately, though, it won me over with some winning performances and a script that, for the most part, avoids the syrup that weighs down most Hollywood romcoms.

The plot itself — separated New York couple Paul and Meryl Morgan are placed into hiding after witnessing a murder — is something of a cut-and-shut amalgam of _Sister Act_ and, well, pretty much every NYC-based comedy. Both high-flying executives, the only way they can organise dinner to try and talk out their differences is through their personal assistants (Jesse Liebman and _The West Wing_/_Mad Men_’s Elisabeth Moss, stealing every scene she’s in).

Whisked away to temporary witness relocation in the depths of Wyoming (which the snobbish Morgans seem to regard with the same stereotypical disdain as English scriptwriters heap upon Norfolk), they are put up by gun-toting redneck couple Marshal Clay Weeler (Sam Elliott) and his wife, Deputy Emma Wheeler (Mary Steenburgen).

Naturally enough, they’re fishes out of water and have trouble adjusting to the country way of life, although in short order they realise that the friendly community spirit has a redemptive quality. Things pretty much proceed at the pace you’d expect from a movie of this sort, and indeed there are very few surprises, if any, in the way the plot develops.

What does surprise, though, is the script. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny all the way through, but has a nice pace to it, with occasional bursts of one-liners or slapstick sequences that help offset the more serious discussions about the Morgans’ self-destructing marriage.

As a result, it feels a lot warmer and truer than most romcoms, almost like a mid-West version of _Cold Feet_. The final reconciliation is one exception, as the dialogue turns gloopily soppy without the witty undercutting that runs through the rest of the script.

Without giving too much away, there’s a “six months later” coda that works quite well — it at least stays true to the central characters’ personalities, rather than having two metropolitan types deciding they need to go completely native to be be fulfilled. But it’s rather a gentler end than I was expecting: I wanted the last line of the film to be a real humdinger, and it wasn’t.

Much like this review.

Author: Scott Matthewman

Formerly Online Editor and Digital Project Manager for The Stage, creator of the award-winning The Gay Vote politics blog, now a full-time software developer specialising in Ruby, Objective-C and Swift, as well as a part-time critic for Musical Theatre Review, The Reviews Hub and others.