Making the Grades
After watching this movie’s trailer for months, spending even part of an evening with the Morgans seemed like it would be a sacrifice. I didn’t think I could stomach one more depiction of Meryl Morgan (Sarah Jessica Parker) running after a loose horse or Paul Morgan (Hugh Grant) trying to appease a grizzly bear by promising to become a member of PETA. And enough already with the Sarah Palin joke. It’s old news.
But in case you haven’t heard about the Morgans, they’re a high-powered New York couple. She sells real estate. He is a lawyer. They’ve been separated since Meryl found out about Paul’s infidelity while he was on a business trip to L.A. She got the apartment. He lives in a hotel.
Despite Paul’s profuse pleas for pardon, they haven’t lived together for three months. Then one night, after an awkward dinner date where they attempt to talk about their future, they witness a man being murdered. Unfortunately, the killer (Michael Kelly) sees them as well.
To protect the Morgans until they can testify in court, U.S. Marshals (Kevin Brown, Steven Boyer, Sharon Wilkins) force the two unhappy members of this marriage into the Witness Protection Program. Their home-away-from-home is Ray, Wyoming, where they temporarily live with Clay and Emma Wheeler (Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen), the local law enforcement agents.
From the moment of the Morgans arrival at the Cody airport, the script pits the stereotypical depictions of snooty New Yorkers (who can’t live without their Blackberry devices, bagels and good Chinese takeout) against the unsophisticated country folk who gather at Annette’s diner for home cooking and watch bull riding for entertainment. Meryl steps off the plane in a pair of high heels that would make Carrie Bradshaw coo, only to be met by Emma checking out the rapid-fire action on a new rifle.
Fortunately the film doesn’t stay mired down in these oversimplified portrayals. Alongside jokes about mounted animal heads, vegetarianism and being a Democrat in a predominantly Republican state, the script addresses the issues that are tearing this young couple apart. But rather than getting marriage advice from a trendy counselor in a high-rise office, Paul and Meryl learn a thing or two about devotion and fidelity from Clay and Emma while splitting firewood and milking cows. And though neither couple is ready to embrace the others’ lifestyle, they do gain a healthy respect for their similarities and differences.
In the meantime, Paul and Meryl also get out of their own heads long enough to share their relevant expertise with the other citizens of Ray and make some new friends along the way. While there are still plenty of serious concerns this film glosses over in a comedic fashion (like a killer on the loose and issues of infertility) and certain content concerns (frequent terms of Deity, the brief use of other profanities and the depiction of a murder), Did You Hear About The Morgans? provides a refreshingly positive message about marriage and the importance of living up to one’s vows.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Did You Hear About The Morgans?.
How vital is it to continue courting after marriage? What happens when this couple is forced to give up their cell phones, pagers and other electronic devices? Why is it important in a relationship to have time away from the demands of work and other responsibilities, even if only for a little while?
What role do personal assistants play in the lives of Meryl and Paul? Who is really running these executives? What would you have a personal assistant do for you?
How do men and women differ in the way they deal with problems? Is Paul as anxious to talk as Meryl? How is forgiveness and the building of trust portrayed in this film?