Many of filmdom's best on-screen romantic couples start out by antagonizing each other about practically everything before they fall in love. In Two Weeks Notice, Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock follow this tradition with their amusing portrayals of a wealthy land developer and a socially-conscious lawyer who don't realize they belong together despite their differences.
I know this might be sacrilegious, but Grant and Bullock reminded me here of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in the classic Woman of the Year (1942) -- only the characters in Two Weeks Notice are reversed. Whereas Tracy played the down-to-earth sportswriter to Hepburn's sophisticated political columnist, Grant assumes the worldliness of a billionaire like Donald Trump, and Bullock's Legal Aid lawyer fits more into the Tracy "common man" role. Surprisingly, I found Grant and Bullock just as much fun to watch. (I saw Woman of the Year recently on AMC, so the comparison is fresh in my mind.)
As in most romantic comedies, the plot of Two Weeks Notice takes a back seat to interactions between the couple involved. Lucy Kelson (Bullock) thinks she will be able to influence George Wade (Grant) more by working for him than by protesting the actions of his "robber baron" corporation. She signs on as his chief legal counsel and head of the Wade philanthropic foundation. In return, George promises not to destroy a community center Lucy holds dear. It doesn't take long before the two start acting like an old married couple. George relies on Lucy for advice about how to dress, the kind of envelopes to use, and so forth. He becomes totally dependent on her. When he calls her out of a wedding to help him select a suit for a television appearance, it's the last straw. Lucy resigns.
A sexy replacement (Alicia Witt) causes Lucy to have second thoughts. But a new problem relating to the community center arises and presents another obstacle to her relationship with George. Although I knew these two would finally get together, I couldn't stop worrying about them and wanting them to realize how much they love each other. However, it's only fair to admit I'm a fan of both stars, so that makes me less objective when it comes to their performances.
Why do I enjoy Grant and Bullock so much? Many critics claim they each play the same role over and over again. And that might be true. But they do it perfectly! Grant's witty delivery of throwaway lines, displayed quite expertly in films like Notting Hill, and Bullock's clumsy sincerity appeal to me -- no matter how weak the plot of the movie in question. In Two Weeks Notice, sparkling dialogue and conflicting social issues add to the film's quality, thanks to Marc Lawrence, who makes his directing/writing debut with this flick. Lawrence also wrote Miss Congeniality, proving he must be tuned-in to Bullock's particular comic flair.
Two Weeks Notice is the first on-screen pairing of Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock. I hope it's not their last.
(Released by Warner Bros. and rated "PG-13" for some sex-related humor.)