Did you hear what happened to the Morgans—that high-powered, uptight Manhattan couple? Paul and Meryl had been separated for three months, but Paul had talked Meryl into having dinner with him. On the way back, they witnessed a murder and were swept away into the Federal Witness Protection Program—all the way to Ray, Wyoming, where they stayed with the local sheriff and his deputy and wife (played by Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen). The killer is still on the loose, but Meryl and Paul are learning about more than just shooting guns and riding horses—they're discovering what it takes to rebuild trust and recreate a marriage.
Somewhere between a romantic comedy and a fish-out-of-water slapstick, the unfortunately titled Did You Hear About the Morgans? is best described as, well, amusing. Writer/director Marc Lawrence cut his chops on plenty of rom-coms, writing films like Miss Congeniality and directing Hugh Grant in Music and Lyrics and Two Weeks Notice.
Playing on the latent red state/blue state prejudices of the moviegoing population, the film delivers some funny if halfway-caricatured dichotomies between the truck-driving, gun-totin', biscuits-and-gravy-eatin' residents of Ray and the Blackberry-totin', salad-dressing-on-the-side Morgans. In the end, of course, the Morgans learn from their hosts, and the town sticks up for the Morgans, and everything turns out fine—though I don't think we'll find Paul and Meryl back there any time soon.
Hugh Grant plays Hugh Grant, which is exactly what we want to see when we go to a Hugh Grant movie: British, dry, dashing, and occasionally bumbling. (One scene under the stars seems to reference several Grant movies—or maybe I've just seen too many of them.) He takes a back seat to Sarah Jessica Parker, not because she's so brilliant, but because she's just incredibly shrill. Parker's Meryl is over the top—neurotic, unable to be still, and, one might imagine, exhausting to keep up with. It's a clear case of "opposites attract."
Elliot and Steenburgen, as the wise older couple who work, live, play, and love together, provide a needed balance to the younger Morgans, offering an example of a marriage that works even through hardship—alongside some good home cooking.
With some exceptions, a romantic comedy is usually about unmarried folks finding each other, somehow hating each other, and then ending up happily ever after. The wedding (or the first kiss) is the climax. Only married folks can really imagine what happens next.
Did You Hear About the Morgans? could be chapter two to a lot of romantic comedies. Its pretty Manhattan couple (played by rom-com veterans) have been past the meet-cute stage for a while, and seemed to have had a happy marriage until the pressures of grown-up life took over—career, infertility, anxiety, and, eventually, infidelity. But they love each other, and they both obviously want to stay together—they're just not sure they can rebuild the trust they've lost.
That may be the great strength of this movie. Set aside for a moment the unbelievably charmed life these two seem to live—fantastic careers, mind-bogglingly big apartments—and their marriage is like many others. It is not torn apart by one big problem, but several that just piled up: the stress of the inability to conceive, anger, resentment, exhaustion, insecurity, and eventually infidelity.
As rom-coms go, Did You Hear About the Morgans? has a more realistic view of what it takes to make a marriage, even if the path seems a little easier for these people. In the end (given the genre, this is hardly a spoiler), the Morgans choose to reject the idea that you should not expect everything from your spouse, throwing caution to the wind and embracing an altered version of their dream life.
On the one hand, trusting a person leaves you bound for disappointment; on the other, perhaps they've just begun to learn what true love is, as outlined by 1 Corinthians 13:7: "Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." And in true romantic comedy fashion, they get everything they ever wanted.Discussion starters
- The film plays on the differences between city people and country dwellers, and the things they have to learn from one another. Have you ever learned about something important from an unlikely source?
- Is the Morgans' final decision—to expect everything from one another—something that Christian marriages should embrace? What is the problem with putting all of your trust in a person?
- Has anyone ever betrayed you? How did you respond? What does it take to be able to forgive someone and trust them again?>
The Family CornerFor parents to consider
Did You Hear About the Morgans? is rated PG-13 for some sexual references and momentary violence. Characters make non-explicit references to infidelity. There is one profanity. The violence is bloodless: there are some gunshots, a bullfight, and a man knifed in the back. A cop is shot in the chest (but is wearing a bulletproof vest).
Photos © Dimension Films
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