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Two Weeks Notice

You want to know what commitment means? Consider Lucy Kelson. The Harvard Law grad is the child of two esteemed lawyers, and she's determined to fulfill their left-of-center ideals as a pro bono attorney working on behalf of the environment, the needy, and historic landmarks threatened by corporate destruction (in this case, the Coney Island Community Center). And here's what commitment definitely is not — George Wade (Hugh Grant), a billionaire playboy who's involved in a messy divorce, been on the cover of several national magazines, and makes lots of loot building real-estate ventures, sometimes over historic landmarks (in this case, the Coney Island Community Center). But when Lucy confronts George one day on the street, hoping to prevent his latest development, the impulsive tycoon offers her a job as his chief legal counsel (with a $250,000 annual salary, no less). After some consideration, Lucy accepts, only to realize over the course of a few years that she's become less a lawyer for the Wade empire, and more the chief hand-holder for its public face — a shallow, charming, indecisive, slightly goofy hypochondriac. Fed up with calls in the middle of night (George had nightmare he was the fifth member of Kiss), as well as his need to get her opinion on everything from mattresses to men's fashions, Lucy gives George her two week's notice. But George is not prepared to let her go, and Lucy herself has second thoughts after an attractive young attorney (Alicia Witt) winds up first in line for her job.

*          *          *

Two Weeks Notice marks the first screen pairing of the Lord and Lady of the romantic comedy, Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock. And with that pair on the marquee, the rest of the affair probably could have been performed with Punch & Judy puppets and the picture still would have netted a profit. Give credit then to writer-director Marc Lawrence, who — if he didn't exactly re-write the genre's rule book — at least outperformed expectations. Two Weeks Notice arrived in theaters at the same time as Maid in Manhattan, and both films were successful with similar box-office results. But where Maid was a bland little Cinderella story with no spark between Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes, Two Weeks Notice crackles with comic energy. Grant and Bullock are playing to their strengths, and there's no shame in that — they are genre performers who do best in parts written for them. Following up his sarcastic turn in the Britcom About a Boy, Grant once again proves adept at mining humor from an essentially shallow character (although it also should be noted that the two roles are very distinct; compare the two movies to see how much Grant puts into a character rather than just "playing himself," as the accusation goes). Bullock is much more within her own persona, and while she has her share of detractors, she's much more amusing than either Julia Roberts or Jennifer Lopez, with a natural gift for verbal wordplay. And since helmer Lawrence wisely focused on the comedy rather than the romance, the really sappy stuff is saved for the last five minutes. The rest of the film zings along on the clash of personalities, with only a hint of sexual tension at times. Two Weeks Notice doesn't want to be Pretty Woman, looking instead to caustic gems like His Girl Friday and Adam's Rib for inspiration. It doesn't match those lofty forebearers, but at least it puts an amusing spin on the screwball.

Warner's DVD release of Two Weeks Notice features anamorphic (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan transfers on separate editions, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Features include a commentary with writer/director Lawrence, Grant, and Bullock, and it's pretty clear that the leading duo have a snarky reparteé off the camera as well; the track is a chummy, humorous affair. Also on board are two deleted scenes, "on-the-fly" links to flubbed outtakes, a "making-of" featurette (13 min.), cast notes, and the theatrical trailer. Snap-case.

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