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Two Weeks Notice

(Marc Lawrence, USA, 2002)


 


Two Weeks Notice is about an environmental activist, Lucy (Sandra Bullock), going up against the establishment. She’s hard, determined, a bit frigid. Are Lucy’s brains and beliefs going to be the butt of every joke in this film? Mercifully, no. Even when she reluctantly agrees to work as a personal assistant for the ‘enemy’, millionaire George (Hugh Grant), she holds her ideological ground.

 

Two Weeks Notice is the debut feature by Marc Lawrence (writer of Miss Congeniality, 2000). Harking back to classics like His Girl Friday (1940) or Teacher's Pet (1958), Lawrence maintains a fighting equality between his male and female leads. Even in the most sentimental moments, it does not cop-out of its initial premise.

 

Not that there’s an awful lot of fight in George. Perfectly shallow and superficial, the only advice he eagerly seeks from his assistant is on what he should wear. When it all gets too much for Lucy, she gives notice. Then the typical plot countdown is on – equivalent to that window of opportunity in old comedies of remarriage between the announcement and finalising of a divorce.

 

Bullock (who is also Producer) and Grant carry this movie. They are both immensely charming and appealing actors, and everything is shaped around their talents. Bullock has the better, more well-rounded part, thanks especially to Lucy’s wonderfully feisty, political parents, Ruth (Dana Ivey) and Larry (Robert Klein). Bullock also has a wonderful scene where her character gets drunk and starts, for once, acting flirty.

 

Not every element in the story is well constructed. Lucy’s lovestruck friends from the opening scene disappear rather quickly, brought back only for an uncharacteristically brittle joke about romantic disillusion. Alicia Witt as June, Lucy’s professional rival, has a one-dimensional part as an ambitious, starstruck, vampish go-getter. And a strange, extended interlude with George getting Lucy onto a family trailer in order for her to pee reminds us of contemporary Hollywood’s lamentable way of portraying the working class.

 

Like many American fantasies, this film tends to want to have it both ways: upholding principles of democracy whilst enjoying the glamorous life of an aristocracy.

 

But that is nothing new; romantic comedies have always indulged this particular dream since the days of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Holiday (1938). While not in that class, Two Weeks Notice provides terrific, savvy entertainment.

 

MORE Marc Lawrence: Life with Mikey

© Adrian Martin January 2003


Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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