If you cast Hugh Grant as a bumbling, awkward Englishman, and Sarah Jessica Parker as a sassy, fashionable New Yorker, your job's half-done, right? Wrong.
Marc Lawrence's third outing with Hugh Grant (the other two being Music & Lyrics and Two Weeks' Notice) is so utterly unfunny and devoid of any charm that it becomes the fish-out-of-water comedy more literally than hoped for. It sputters, gasps, flails, and then lies there dead.
That you have to sit there and watch this corpse of a film for 100 plus minutes is exactly why you don't let middling directors take free reign just because they wrote The Out Of Towners.
I suppose I would have been a bit more charitable about what is essentially a harmless, charmless stupid film had it not been for Sam Elliot and Mary Steenburgen. Both of these fine actors are a pleasure to watch, and just hearing them enunciate the lines they are given is one of the few pleasures of mainstream American films.
Marc Lawrence should be hidden in a witness protection program of his own after the terrible lines and droll scenes he makes Elliot and Steenburgen inhabit just to wring some empathy out of a film about two very unlikable people. He has wasted supreme talent, and I do not forgive him.
The less said about the leads, the better, though. Parker is her usual self - this is a bad or a good thing depending on whether you were on the boat when the Sex And The City love cruise took off. Hugh Grant, in his desperation for work, has been doing utterly banal films for a while now, but this is a new low even for him. He has never been a physical actor. Facial tics and quips aside, it is his voice and his face that do his physicality for him.
Why it was considered by anyone that plonking him in front a bear and have him gesticulate wildly was going to be funny is beyond me. Bad decisions like these abound. Having an Englishman acquire an immediate taste for hinterland Americana and the American be lost in the wilds was probably a decent decision on paper, but it pans out like an unfunny, prolonged version of a Star Plus soap at best.
The editing on this train wreck is as patchy and horrible as the trailer is slick. It could be that poor Susan Morse was struggling to work with a bad screenplay to begin with, but all I know is that every moment spent in the cinemas was as tedious as it gets.
I can only implore to your good sense to give this horrible, no-show film a miss and preserve your time for better things. It's like watching paint dry with a creepy person who makes bad jokes every 10 minutes.