Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 29 December 2009
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Word may have already reached you about this awful offal, but if not, I’ll be happy to tell you. The title could happily and truthfully exist with the “ga” being replaced with an “o” in the surname, and the poster itself warns of an approaching idiocy. The two principals, Meryl Morgan (Sarah Jessica Parker) and estranged husband Paul (Hugh Grant) peek out from a field of tall grass, looking perplexed.
From that image you may correctly infer that the two will wind up as proverbial “fish out of water” and utterly unsuited to a new, alien way of life. Bingo! You’ll have predicted most of the ensuing film by that point, and it doesn’t get much more original.
A successful New York couple (she’s a Park Ave real estate broker, he’s a high-powered attorney in a Manhattan law firm) witness a murder and must go into the witness protection program to save them from the homicidal wrath of bad guy, Vincent (Michael Kelly). Can you see it coming? They are flown to Wyoming to live with federal marshals Clay Wheeler (Sam Elliott) and his wife Emma (Mary Steenburgen).
The Morgans are separated due to his infidelity but he's still in love with her. She's finding it hard to forgive (and even harder to conceive when they were still together). Adoption procedures have been unsuccessful and Meryl is ambivalent about a reconciliation. Now they are in grizzly country, land of cowboy boots and rodeos, where meat is king and carnivores walk on two legs The two are vegetarians. Surprise!
The sophomoric dialogue actually contains an ancient joke, passed off as original, that made several in the audience, including yours truly, audibly groan – from disbelief and disappointment. When Meryl declares that she's a member of PETA, and then states what it stands for (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Emma pipes up that she, too, is a member of PETA, only her anagram stands for People Eating Tasty Animals.
It doesn't ever get much better than that, with the Morgans complaining about the incessant quietness of life outside of sirens and street noise, the lack of cable and fashion ensembles, the wood chopping and gun-toting sensibilities of the populace.
Of course there's a grizzly encounter, just long enough to make you realize how very trained the bear is – and how talented when pitted against his two floundering co-stars.
As you may have already guessed, the pair find life in a small town to have some saving graces, which are illustrated when the bad guy eventually finds them.
Do they reconcile? Do they discover an unknown devotion to each other? Do they remain childless? Are Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen utterly wasted in the wilderness? I don't believe in spoilers, but these hints are pretty close.
Sarah Jessica Parker simply brings New York's Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City into Wyoming, mannerisms and all (remember the hair toss, complete with hand swipe to the side?). And speaking of mannerisms, Hugh Grant can be reliably counted on to play Hugh Grant, whether he's portraying an attorney, a rodeo clown, a NASA specialist, or a Mafia capo. It's all there, the stuttering, the hand gestures, the downward glances, the awkward posture. I don't think he'll attempt an accent anytime soon.
Sam Elliott fits into the western décor as does Mary Steenburgen, but they are not on screen enough to lend any real credibility to the wafer-thin plot. Mike Kelly has the face of a villain but can only hit the one note his character calls for.
Director Marc Lawrence (Music and Lyrics) also wrote the screenplay, and employs every cliché imaginable in this unimaginative effort, as if referring to some Hollywood Movie of the Week recipe book for rom-coms.
Even the age old fish out of water premise is acceptable if done well (Private Benjamin, Baby Boom, Austin Powers) but the fish (and the comedy) has to be fairly fresh. The Morgans are anything but.
Even the grizzly's not interested in taking a bite.