Marc Lawrence (“Music and Lyrics”) writes and directs an inert, vacuous comedy about a separated couple that suffers separation anxiety from New York City when the witness-protection program hides them from a hitman linked to an international arms dealer. Out in Ray, Wyoming, Meryl and Paul (Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant) ride horses, shoot tin cans, milk a cow, mace a bear, chop wood, look at stars in the night sky, and find bargains in a big outlet store. Hosting these stereotypical city types are Clay and Emma (Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen), witness protectors who teach the twits from Manhattan a thing or two about making a marriage work. Meryl is a bagel-and-Bloomingdales caricature from a Woody Allen film who runs a boutique real estate company that made the cover of New York Magazine. Paul is a corporate lawyer pleading for her forgiveness for an affair he had. The childless power couple have young assistants who come straight off the occupational cliché shelf: Jackie (Elisabeth Moss) is a ballbuster and anxious Adam (Jesse Leiberman) has the busted balls. Working cute, they make a merger. Lawrence seals no deals for laughs with lines about vegetarian Democrat Meryl and Paul, sleepless in the rustic sirenless quiet since “I could hear my cells dividing.” The movie West is evoked with a sampling of Max Steiner’s score from “The Searchers,” but “Did You Hear About The Morgans?” only shows what a vast trackless expanse a movie screen can be when there is so little to fill it. With Michael Kelly, Wilford Brimley, David Call, Kim Shaw and Gracie Lawrence. 103m. (Bill Stamets)
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.