Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Two Weeks Notice": Hugh Grant in conventional romantic comedy; he made made a curious comedy about "geography" back in Wales; AMC history

Well, I go back in time, to a 2002 mainstream romantic comedy that I missed, “Two Weeks Notice”, from Warner Brothers, Castle Rock, Village Roadshow, and Fortis, the last of which listened to my passionate pitch for ‘Titanium” at a 2006 screenwriting class in DC.  This genre is not my element, and seems formulaic. The director was Marc Lawrence.
Smooth-skinned Hugh Grant plays a rich real estate lawyer (George Wade) who hires “Lucy”, a sassy Sandra Bullock, who soon resents his treating her like a nanny. But when she tries to give him two-weeks  notice to quit, he blackballs her and browbeats her with non-compete clauses. 
Grant is caught in a bind: he has her, when hiring her, promised to build a Coney Island community center and “give back” to the community (he says his life is like Monopoly), and his own boss insists on short-term profits only in the post-9/11 world.  He can say the platitudes (real estate makes “strangers into neighbors”) but can he live as a real human being? He’s a bit like the Rich Young Ruler. 
There’s a scene where Grant is playing chess, and the analogy to chess pieces (predictable) and women  is made.  (Is Grant playing the Shevshnikov?)

He also asks Lucy a curious post-interview question, about picking out environmentally friendly stationery (and this is 2002).  On the web, employment consultants often discuss whether to ask a candidate whether he/she can start immediately and ditch a current employer. 
As for Coney Island (and the terminus of the D and F trains) I remember the Seaside Courts and the paddleball games along the Boardwalk on Coney Island from a visit around 1989.  Is it still there? Or did a real Community Center and Condo complex get built there?

There's also a scene at Shea Stadium where George as a fan interferes with a foul pop fly.  The ballplayer says, go root for the Yankees.  Citi Field is a much more interesting place than Shea was. The fans boo.  (I was actually an extra for one second in a film scene for Morgan Creek's "Major League 3", with a live scene filmed at the Minneapolis Metrodome in November 1997.  They bought us din-din.) 
There are lots of familiar pop songs, like “Ain’t no paradise” and “The Way”.
Hugh Grant played in a curious little British comedy in 1994, by Christopher Monger, as cartographer Reginald Anson in “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came down a Mountain” (Miramax), in Wales.  The issue was whether the hill was over 1000 feet high, deserving the name “mountain” and the color orange-yellow in a World Book Encyclopedia 1950 relief map. Rising sea levels could bring it down to “hill” status.  I remember seeing this in an old AMC property at the Skyline Mall at Bailey’s Crossroads VA.  

There was a curious incident at that old complex (now long demolished and replaced). Late on a Saturday afternoon in September 1992, when I went to see Clive Barker's silly "Candyman";  I had previously thought that his movie was “School Ties” (Paramount, Robert Mandel), a woman walked into the small auditorium before the show started and warned people about talking during the movie.  This has never happened any other time. The "school"  film, by the way, concerned a Jewish boy (Brendan Fraser) hiding his religion from an anti-Semite (Matt Damon) at a prep school.  (During that time, and for a number of years, AMC operated a theater complex at Union Station in Washington DC and advertised a “no talking” policy at that complex only in the newspapers; bizarre.)

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