Well, although I’m nearing the later parts of the next novel I plan to review (but am enjoying it so much that I want to slow down and savour it), I thought that it was time to review yet another film. And, since I was also in the mood for another “feel good” romantic comedy, I thought that I’d check out one that I’ve been meaning to watch for quite a while. I am, of course, talking about the 2002 film “Two Weeks Notice”.
I’d vaguely thought about reviewing this film during my “1990s films” series a couple of years ago, but it fell just outside of the time range (eg: 1989-2001) I’d set for the series. So, when a relative asked if I wanted to borrow any of their DVDs for these reviews, I was delighted to find this one in a box set.
So, let’s take a look at “Two Weeks Notice”. Needless to say, this review may contain some SPOILERS.
The film begins in New York with a legal aid lawyer and community activist called Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) and two of her friends protesting the demolition of a community theatre by the nefarious Wade Corporation. After managing to delay the wrecking ball for a few minutes with the strategic use of yoga mats, we later see her parents bailing her out of jail. Since they are both experienced lawyers who have a history of standing up for ordinary people, civil rights and local causes, they are proud of her for taking a stand.
Sometime later, Lucy learns that cartoonishly rich businessman George Wade (Hugh Grant) also plans to bulldoze the local community centre. So, after compiling documents about it, she decides to find him and plead the case for keeping the centre going.
Meanwhile, George is in a spot of bother. His richer brother, the head of the family’s company, is more than a little annoyed at him for hiring a string of attorneys based on looks and romantic interest rather than on actual legal skill. He gives George an ultimatum to find a good lawyer within the next few days.
When George leaves the office, talking to one possible candidate, Lucy confronts him with a folder of information about the community centre and tries to appeal to his better nature. Their conversation is interrupted by a reporter looking for a statement about the proposed development work. After Lucy inadvertently helps George to give an inspiring and eloquent speech to the press, he asks her to join her in his limo. He has a proposition. He’ll save the centre if she agrees to work as his lawyer.
Much to the disapproval of her parents and long-distance boyfriend, Lucy accepts. At first, the job goes well and she’s also able to direct a lot of the company’s charitable spending too. However, George starts treating her more like a P.A. than an actual lawyer. And, after calling her in the middle of a wedding to ask her opinion about what he should wear during a TV interview, she hands in her two weeks notice. But, after a series of underhanded attempts by George to get her to stay at the company, the two reluctantly reach a deal. Lucy will find a replacement lawyer if George doesn’t try to stop her working for anyone else afterwards…
One of the first things that I will say about this film is that, whilst it is very stylised, it was still a lot of fun to watch 🙂 It’s also a romantic comedy that pays as much, if not more, attention to it’s comedy elements as it does to the romantic elements of the story 🙂
So, I should probably start by talking about this film’s comedy elements, which are excellent. Although the numerous comedic moments are more “amusing” than “laugh out loud” a lot of the time, the frequency of them really adds a lot of personality and fun to the film.
Although there are some well-placed moments of slapstick comedy (and other comedic set pieces), the bulk of this film’s humour comes from the characters – in particular, the amusing “opposites” relationship and dialogue exchanges between Lucy and George. Both of them are stylised, but amusing, comedic characters and are absolutely perfect.
Although Grant and Bullock aren’t exactly playing against type here, this is what makes the film so excellent. Lucy is the kind of awkward, eccentric, kind-hearted and slightly cynical character that Sandra Bullock excels at. George is the kind of utterly charming, but loveably foolish and endearingly stupid, character that Hugh Grant does so well. As you can imagine, this allows for a lot of amusing comedic conflict and character moments throughout the film.
Plus, talking of the casting, I was amazed to see David Haig in this film too 🙂 Although he plays his role as George’s miserable, ruthless brother fairly “seriously” and is a much more understated version of the kind of grumpy character he played in classic BBC sitcoms like “The Thin Blue Line“, it’s still really cool to see him in a mainstream Hollywood movie 🙂 And, though he mostly just serves as a foil to Hugh Grant’s character, he still adds an extra something to the film.
However, I should point out that – during one brief scene later in the film – Donald Trump has a cameo. Yes, in the 1990s and early 2000s, these cameos were kind of a Hollywood tradition/running joke – but, depending on your opinions about US politics, this scene may briefly ruin the mood of the film when watched today.
In terms of the film’s romance elements, they are better than I’d expected. For most of the film, the relationship between Lucy and George is this weird mixture of friendship, business and antagonism – which fits in well with the film’s unusual premise. They seem like two people who should hate each other but somehow get along in an oddly charming and amusing way.
This antagonism also means that their relationship progresses at a reasonably slow and sensible pace, with the two characters having enough conflict between them to provide the film with a few “serious” dramatic moments whilst still keeping a fairly “feel good” emotional tone.
Likewise, the fact that their relationship for most of the film is this weird mixture of friendship, antagonism and business also means that the film sets itself apart from many romantic comedies, allowing for a lot more “traditional” comedic moments and situations than you sometimes find in this genre.
Plus, although it’s clear from the outset that they’re going to end up together, the interesting part is how this ends up happening and all of the inner conflict and character development (eg: Lucy is initially eager to find someone to replace her at George’s company, but has mixed emotions after she finds someone etc…) on the way to the expected final kiss just before the credits.
Yes, there are vague elements of a “Fifty Shades”-style dynamic between the main characters in some moments, but the film actually handles this in a suitably irreverent and vaguely intelligent way, with these parts of the film being presented as sources of comedic conflict rather than as anything particularly “romantic”. Likewise, although the giant wealth disparity between the two main characters is a well-worn romance trope, it’s not only played for laughs in many moments but the film also has a rather heartwarming message about money being less important than community, love, friendship etc… Although this is also a rather cliched trope, it’s still kind of refreshing to see it here.
As mentioned earlier, there is actually a fairly good amount of character development. Although this is slightly stylised and predictable- with Lucy going from being an activist and beleagured P.A. to a more confident character and George going from an arrogant, but charming, “more money than sense” businessman to a charming, but somewhat more decent, person – it still adds a bit of extra depth, nuance and humanity to this film’s characters. Who, again, are extremely stylised but somehow still manage to be very compelling.
All in all, this is a much better film than it probably sounds on paper (or, in this case, a computer screen). Yes, it’s incredibly stylised in a lot of ways, but Bullock and Grant turn it into something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a romantic comedy which works just as well as a comedy (if not slightly better) as it does as a romance. So, if you want a fun, funny and “feel good” film with a quirky and cute main couple, then this one is definitely worth a watch 🙂
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least a four.