It’s a simple setup: Hugh Grant is the genteel, bumbling billionaire; Sandra Bullock is the indignant, reluctant employee. They banter, they snipe, and, of course, fall in love. All’s well that ends well in the land of romantic comedy. Nothing special, nothing new — this is territory that Grant and Bullock have tread repeatedly, and, at this point in their bubble-gum careers, could do blindfolded.
The difference in Two Weeks Notice is twofold: The bang-bang nature of the dialogue and plot keeps the energy flowing, and Grant and Bullock, stuck with ineffective co-stars so many times before (so many times, in fact, that I don’t particularly like either one of them), have great chemistry to go with the great material they have to work with. Bullock plays Lucy Kelson, a lawyer more concerned with conservation than corporations. She so impresses real-estate magnate George Wade (Grant) while protesting one of his company’s projects that he hires her on the spot as his chief counsel. When Lucy decides that Wade’s opinion of her as indispensable borders on the psychotically obsessed, she quits, only to find that he has blacklisted her in order to keep her in his employ.
Grant is best suited to the breathless repartee of the screwball comedies of the late-’30s and early-’40s, and not just because he’s the de facto latter-day answer to Cary. Writer-director Marc Lawrence, who was also the screenwriter on previous Bullock projects — Forces of Nature (really bad) and Miss Congeniality (not so bad) — keeps his lines coming fast and funny. This is a movie that easily could have been made 60 years ago, almost exactly as written; substitute the slightly more earthy Rosalind Russell for Katherine Hepburn (far too patrician for this role) in Bullock’s place, and you’ve got a classic Howard Hawks flick. As it stands, Two Weeks Notice is a lovely surprise just enough removed from reality to work.
Erin Podolsky writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].