|Two Weeks Notice|
|DVD Romantic Comedy|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 29 April 2003|
Criticizing “Two Weeks Notice” feels a bit like kicking a puppy – the thing means no harm to anyone and doesn’t deserve abuse. In fact, it boasts some snappy dialogue and a pair of very proficient performances from Sandra Bullock (who also produces here) and Hugh Grant, both doing their romantic comedy best. But unless one is deeply into romantic comedy that are innocuous for their very lack of substance, “Two Weeks Notice” is just a bit of a chore.
Bullock plays Lucy Kelson, a New York attorney brought up to fight the good fight for lawyerly minimum wage. Grant plays George Wade, a businessman who is both incredibly wealthy and remarkably non-self-sufficient. George tends to hire lawyers (all female) based on their looks and receptivity to his charms rather than their legal expertise, but when his brother (David Haig) finally puts his foot down, it’s time for an upgrade in counsel. Enter Lucy, who is intent on getting George to refrain from tearing down a community center, which occupies the ground where Wade Industries wants to erect a high rise. George is so intrigued by Lucy’s passion and knowledge that he offers her a job as his chief counsel. Although Lucy has concerns about working with big business, she accepts – one of her conditions being that George spares the community center. George proceeds to ask Lucy’s advice on every aspect of his life, from ghostwriting his speeches to selecting his stationery. Lucy finally wants out …
Director/writer Marc Lawrence provides a measure of charm but absolutely no surprises. In fact, he flies his colors honestly in the very first scene, where Lucy displays her activist colors by getting a couple of friends to bodily block the path of a bulldozer. The heroine is a non-controversial firebrand, which lets us know that she’s meant to be spirited while at the same time being totally inoffensive. The rest of the film follows the pattern of playing at saying something while being totally safe. (By comparison, “Maid in Manhattan,” released at the same time, set in the same city and even using the same Cinderella theme, is a message picture.) The results are often amusing but not really engaging – “Two Weeks Notice” winds up feeling like a very well-made sitcom.
The audio commentary track, with filmmaker Lawrence and performers Bullock and Grant all reminiscing and teasing each other, will for many viewers be more entertaining than the film itself – listening to the trio critique the scenes, discuss how the scenes were achieved and occasionally comment on each other’s perspectives is actually quite a treat. Two deleted scenes are fairly good (although in both instances, it’s understandable why they were cut), albeit there’s some checkerboard-like artifacts in the first of the two. The film also comes with a “Two Bleeps Notice” branching outtakes track, found in the special features section – as the film runs (at a volume level that seems slightly higher than the normal track), click on the heart icon when it appears and you’ll get scene-specific bloopers.
Picture quality is fine but unremarkable, with a nice clean widescreen print and vivid colors. There are few discrete sound effects, though the rumble and screech of wrecking-ball apparatus in Chapter 2 is impressive in volume and heft. Chapter 20 has one rather odd audio choice – we hear vocals and blues piano divorced from any ambient sound over shots of a party, then discover that what we’re hearing is source music from the party’s entertainer as the ambient track returns. Lawrence seems to be conveying the notion that Lucy and George are so off in their own minds at this point that they’re out of touch with their surroundings, and it’s an interesting method of making the point, but it feels a little weird until we realize what’s going on.
As romantic comedies go, “Two Weeks Notice” is neither compelling nor horrible. If you like Bullock and/or Grant, they’re both doing their thing very well here. If you want some substance with the smooches, look elsewhere. Then again, if you want to hear about filmmaking on an anecdotal level from three people totally enjoying one another, the audio commentary is very much worth your time.