Two Weeks Notice

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“Two Weeks Notice” is a perfectly likeable romantic comedy, containing not a single unforeseeable plot twist but featuring a good deal of witty dialogue and amusing interaction between the lead characters. In fact, when Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock are not onscreen, both of them at the same time, the film drags considerably.

This is, I suppose, a sign that the screenplay (by Marc Lawrence, who also directed) is not that great after all, and that it’s the charisma of the actors keeping us interested. No matter. I’m just delighted at having enjoyed a romantic comedy rather than being annoyed by it. It takes a lot of work for a movie to entertain me when I can see all of its plot points coming before I even enter the theater.

Bullock plays an exceptionally clumsy woman named Lucy Kelson, a righteous do-gooder attorney who fights to preserve historical sites in Manhattan. (I’m pretty sure no romantic comedy in the history of the genre has ever NOT taken place in New York City.) Her enemy is George Wade (Grant), whom her mother calls a “philandering robber-baron,” and that pretty much sums it up. He’s an irresponsible millionaire playboy who means no one any harm but who also thinks of no one but himself. (“I own the Grand Hotel and I live there,” he says. “My life is very much like Monopoly.”)

George is desperately in need of a good lawyer, and Lucy agrees to the job in exchange for George not knocking down a Coney Island community center she has fond feelings for. However, she soon becomes less his lawyer and more his personal assistant, helping him make every tiny decision in his life and figuratively — if not literally — getting him dressed in the morning. Then she gets fed up, wants to quit, can’t because of the iron-clad contract she has with him (which she wrote), and so on. At some point, they sort of fall in love, or at least the movie wants us to think they do.

George’s utter dependence on Lucy and his cavalier attitude toward everything is highly amusing, particularly given Grant’s adeptness at these kinds of characters. Bullock has never been my favorite, but she’s a good comedian and has an excellent onscreen rapport with Grant. They’re no Tracy and Hepburn, but they’ll do.

These kinds of movies aren’t rocket science, Bullock pointed out in a recent interview, nor are they curing cancer; they’re just for kicks. She’s right, of course. We know the end from the beginning, and so the movie’s task is to make the journey enjoyable. “Two Weeks Notice” is thoroughly contrived, but golly, it’s a fun trip.

B (1 hr., 35 min.; PG-13, very mild profanity, some comic sexual innuendo.)