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When recently estranged professional New York couple Paul (Hugh Grant) and Meryl Morgan (Sarah Jessica Parker) witness a street murder after a tentative reunion dinner engineered by Paul, they become targets for the killer and are quickly relocated to Ray, a small Wyoming town, as part of the witness protection program. They're housed at Clay Wheeler's (Sam Elliott), the local Marshall's home, where he and his wife (Mary Steenburger) make them welcome in true country style - something unfamiliar to the Morgans, as they struggle with their circumstances and each other - and the threat of the killer who is after them.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's not that I mind about Hugh Grant speaking in soothing monotones to a wild grizzly in remote Wyoming, or that Sarah Jessica Parker packs a suitcase filled with underwear and a strapless gown when being whisked away into protective custody after witnessing a murder. But I do mind sitting through a film that feels tired. Even the two leads look as though they need a good night's sleep. Or a bit of inspiration. Nothing works and everything feels forced. The romantic pairing of Grant and Parker has no zing, the script is dead in the water and if we were asked us whether We Cared about The Morgans, the answer would sadly be No.

The truth is, I was rather looking forward to a formulaic, predictable, escapist rom com with a few laughs. But the only time I chuckled was in reference to the seasoned city-slickers unable to sleep in the quiet of the remote countryside and who craved good old city noise, like rumbling subways and screeching sirens. However, the film does begin with a clever device over the opening credits, in which we hear Grant's Paul leaving a message on Meryl's voice mail, which tells us all we need to know about their relationship, his adultery and how he wants her back. They both have companies to run and fortunately (for the killer who sees them squabbling in the rain), she has her photo on the cover of a real estate magazine, which is a bit like waving a red flag to a bull. This brings me to a bull named Killer, and the rodeo, being the setting of the film's (anti) climactic moments.

I rather liked Sam Elliott as the little township of Ray's laid-back town sheriff (his character is the only one that feels as though he belongs), but his gun-toting wife (Mary Steenburgen) is over-directed ('Good God, it's Sarah Palin'). Director Marc Lawrence has plenty to answer for with this lazily written script in which his characters are caricatures that would sit more happily in an inane half-hour sit com.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The US Christmas turkey arrives on time in Australia this year; oh groan, do we have to eat it!? In one of those perfect cinematic storms, everything is wrong about this film, from screenplay to casting to performances and especially directing. OK, let's salvage two reputations: Sam Elliott's and Mary Steenburger's survive intact, playing the smalltown Wyoming family (he's the Marshall) who house the unfortunate couple from New York. I use the word unfortunate in its derogatory sense, because they are in their own worlds fairly successful, albeit relationship challenged. But unfortunate they are in this film.

Separated for three months now, they're an irritating and unlikeable duo and we can't imagine why Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant would agree to play them. Neither of them come off well, playing sludgy stereotype characters with the energy and enthusiasm of Sydney's pathetic public transport.

The dialogue is uniformly bad, and writer / director Marc Lawrence emphasises its badness by holding the camera on the speaker long after their lines are delivered in uncomfortable silence. Or maybe the editor wanted to show him up ....

Clunk follows gunk as the plot is squeezed out in slo-mo, like a kid squashing sausage skin. It is neither pretty nor interesting as the city couple comes face to udder with the country. It isn't even predictably clichéd! It's just dull. And there is no greater sin in arts or entertainment than being boring. Marc Lawrence and team have sinned.

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(US, 2009)

CAST: Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalia Klimas, Vincenzo Amato, Jesse Liebman, Elisabeth Moss, Michael Kelly, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen

PRODUCER: Liz Glotzer, Martin Shafer,

DIRECTOR: Marc Lawrence

SCRIPT: Marc Lawrence


EDITOR: Susan E. Morse

MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro


RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2009

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