News isn't good for 'About the Morgans'

Did you hear about the Morgans? If so, you might wish you hadn't.

This bland fish-out-of-water comedy is unremarkable in every aspect, unless you're one of them thar city slickers who thinks the idea that Sarah Jessica Parker trading in her Jimmy Choos for a pair of cowboy boots amounts to an act of cultural treason.

“Did You Hear About the Morgans” comes from writer-director Marc Lawrence, creator of two perfectly pleasant comedies from Decembers of yore — “Miss Congeniality” and “Two Weeks Notice.”

Studio heads are superstitious about these things, so it's no coincidence that “Morgans” arrives at precisely the same time of year as Lawrence's other box-office triumphs. Sadly, Lawrence forgot to pack the laughs this time around.

Parker and Hugh Grant play the titular Morgans, a high-powered Manhattan couple whose marriage took a hit when Paul cheated on Meryl. Paul professes bitter regret, but Meryl can't bring herself to start over and love Paul “just a little.”

Paul does manage to wheedle one dinner date, but their evening ends, as so many Manhattan nights do, with a dead body falling from a terrace.

Since the man responsible for the dead body saw the Morgans and the murder somehow involves an international arms dealer (don't ask), the Feds put the Morgans into witness relocation and ship them to a hole-in-the-wall town in Wyoming.

There, they bunk with the local marshal (Sam Elliott) and his gun-loving, wood-chopping deputy wife (Mary Steenburgen). Faster than you can hum the theme to “Green Acres,” you've got a clash of cultures to add to the already established spousal tiff.

And that's just too much fighting. Lawrence usually comes up with a decent hook upon which to hang his laugh track, but he gets in his own way here by having Parker spend most of her time playing the wounded victim. Parker can mope with the best of them, but her strength is playing kicky and kooky. There are times here when the actress seems even more dispirited than her character.

As for Grant, you can usually tell how desperate he feels about the material by how fast he's fluttering his eyelids. In “Morgans,” he's batting them so furiously, it looks like he's trying to achieve liftoff. It would have been a more interesting movie if he did.

Instead, we have roaming grizzly bears and the inevitable, eye-stinging encounters with grizzly bear repellent, soul-crushing confrontations with Wilford Brimley's mustache (best not ask him to stub out his cigarette), a rote (not rogue) Sarah Palin joke and the overall wistfulness that comes when you find yourself actually thinking they just don't make movies like “Doc Hollywood” anymore.

When, at one point, Parker tells Steenburgen that she belongs to PETA, the meat-loving Steenburgen counters: “Me, too. People For Eating Tasty Animals.”

Oh, you've heard about the Morgans. Whether you realize it or not.

“Did You Hear About the Morgans?”, a Columbia Pictures release, is rated PG-13 for some sexual references and momentary violence. Running time: 103 minutes. Two stars out of four.

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

In his extensive filming of The City during the pandemic, Eric Goodfield said he has been “observing how the environment affects the behavior of people.” (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Filmmaker Eric Goodfield fixes lens on SF’s COVID days

140 days of shooting in The City made for ‘greatest adventure’

Most Read