TWO WEEKS NOTICE
**** (out of 5)
December 20, 2002
Sandra Bullock as LUCY KELSON
Hugh Grant as GEORGE WADE
Robert Klein as MR. KELSON
Alicia Witt as JUNE CARTER
Directed by: Marc Lawrence
BY KEVIN CARR
After starring in the depressingly bland and darkly boring “Murder By Numbers,” Sandra Bullock returns to the roots of what made her a name in Hollywood – the romantic comedy. This is such a throw-back to earlier Bullock vehicles that her character even shares the name with the one she played in “While You Were Sleeping.”
Lucy Kelson (Bullock) is a passionate young lawyer who donates her time and energies to every issue of the day – from fair public housing to saving the environment. George Wade (Grant) is a bumbling industrialist who makes his millions off of the misfortune of others. He’s also a cad who can’t help sleeping with every woman he comes in contact with.
While undergoing a bitter divorce, George loses his chief legal counsel. Immediately, his attention turns to Kelson, who has stopped him on the street to beg him not to tear down a historic community center in Brooklyn. George eventually hires Lucy as his chief legal counsel, promising to save the community center and let her donate his charitable contributions to her choice of recipients.
Lucy takes the job, but is completely unprepared for what is to follow. George, who is so incompetent that he stumbles around life just barely getting by, has her do everything for him from picking out his clothes to telling her the right thing to say to a date. Finally, Lucy gets fed up with his treatment and gives her two weeks notice (hence the title of the movie).
As Lucy is trying to pull herself from George’s company, her Greenpeace-faring boyfriend calls it quits and a new chief legal counsel (an alarmingly thin Alicia Witt) starts to catch George’s eye.
Lucy Kelson is merely another iteration of Lucy Moderatz from “While You Were Sleeping” – a woman who just doesn’t have things together. But that’s okay. I’m glad to see the filmmakers didn’t try to fix something that wasn’t broken. Expertly pulled off by Bullock, Lucy is the girl next door who actually is believable as a girl who doesn’t get dates.
Of course, Hugh Grant is ever charming in the film, although he could pick up a brush now and then to get his hair under control. And Sandra Bullock is as cute as she has ever been. It’s hard to believe, she’s almost 40.
Hugh Grant does a very nice job underplaying George. Taking a different turn from heavy-handed comedy, but not hitting the more dashing and somber stride that Richard Gere pulled off in “Pretty Woman” and “The Runaway Bride,” Grant manages to make George both loveable and irritating. At times, his humor is almost unnoticeable with deadpan responses, but he is spot on in most points. In fact, you almost forget about his penchant for nighttime rendezvous with Divine Brown. Almost.
Actually, Grant and Bullock don’t necessarily have great chemistry as much as they work better independent of each other. This actually works for the film as George (Grant) rambles on with his own thoughts while Lucy (Bullock) tries to get him focused.
Directed by “Miss Congeniality” scribe, Marc Lawrence, “Two Weeks Notice” is everything a romantic comedy is supposed to be – two polar opposites with different histories and different agendas who learn not only to get along but fall in love in the process.
Also joining Bullock from her past is Heather Burns (who played Miss Rhode Island in “Miss Congeniality”), who is sadly underused in this film. We only see her in the first scene where they’re trying to save a building from destruction, in a wedding that George pulls Lucy out of to pick the right suit (we’ve all seen it in the previews) and near the end where Lucy runs to her for a girl-to-girl talk. Burns, who shined as the adorable Miss Rhode Island before is just tossed in almost as a favor to those who she worked with in the past.
Richard Klein (who tends to play hot and cold in his films) is a remarkably fresh Mr. Kelson, an ex-1960s hippie with high cholesterol. Of course, his life has slowed down from marching on Washington and protesting the Vietnam war. His biggest struggle now is to enjoy a cheesecake made completely of soy.
So far the best romantic comedy of the season, mopping the floor with Jennifer Lopez’s “Maid in Manhattan,” “Two Weeks Notice” will fit nicely in the Sandra Bullock library of feel-good films.