Is anyone still reading any of this?
Sony's AVC encoded disc rams the film's banality home within a nice wide 2.35:1 image that is keen to promote the lovely bright hues of the open Wyoming (erm, I mean New Mexican) prairies and the grinning, gurning, pouting visages of the two leads. Primaries are bold and vivid, although there seems to be a swerving favouritism of greens and reds taking place. Skin tones can look quite flush in that over-produced and decidedly warm aesthetic that this sort of high-glitz material tends to receive. Colours for the costumes - the blue denims, the white country blouses, the garish attire of the rodeo clowns and that panto-cow look fine. Pale blue skies and dusty scrublands provide a nice contrast at times, and the New York scenes - typical street vistas, yellow cabs, neon, etc - come over well. Black levels aren't consistent and although shadow delineation is fine, there are plenty of occasions when night-time scenes look washed-out.
Detail is adequate and nothing more. The film flits between decent sharpness and a vague softness that dulls down interiors. There is the ubiquitous top-down view of the New York streets that does look really good, offering a lot of detail and points of interest on the various roofs and buildings. The Wyoming scenes like to luxuriate in distant horizons, long shots and copious landscapes. Distant mountain ranges and ravines all look reasonable enough, but there is nothing that will amaze you with its sharpness, clarity or attention to the finite. Material in shirts, jeans and hats isn't too shabby, but the texture and separation on leaves and branches in the mid-ground isn't always what it could be. Sometimes rocks and dirt is highly defined, other times foliage and terrain looks less well picked-out. I'm nit-picking here, of course. Basically, the film looks good. It is not eye-candy material, even given the gorgeous environment that most of it takes place in and the transfer doesn't set out to wow.
Sadly, this image looks as though it might have been DNR'd to me. Now, the cynic in me would like to believe that this was done at the request of both Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker, who both appear to have had numerous lines, crags, wrinkles and anything resembling natural human skin texture removed from the print. Either this, or they are wearing one helluva lot of makeup. Even though, there is a fine layer of grain across the image and elements such as banding, aliasing or artefacts don't pose a problem to what is, essentially, a very clean and bright picture. Edge enhancement has plenty of occasions to rear its ugly head, yet, thankfully, does not intrude. Delineation is reasonably sharp and there is a pleasing degree of depth and three-dimensionality, especially when we see sunny exterior shots such as the bear attack or the gun-man's assault on the ranch.
If you like this film, then you have my sympathy. No! Sorry, I meant to say that if you like this film, then you are bound to be very happy with Sony's presentation of it.
Did this have lossless sound? Oh yeah ... the box does claim that it has DTS-HD MA in a 5.1 flavour. Well, truth be told (and you really won't be surprised by this, of course) the film is almost totally front-based, with next to nothing extended out the back that isn't merely subtle ambience. Arguably, it doesn't need any whizz-bang wraparound surroundage, so it seems churlish to complain. This is a dialogue-driven film (and what wonderful dialogue it is too!) and every verbal nuance of Grant's hesitant English vowel display is captured and every rock-splitting burr from Elliott with charming clarity and warmth. The balance across the mix is fine, with dialogue never swallowed-up or drowned. The music, whether it is the score from Theodore Shapiro or the country covers sung during the barn-dance, is equally warm and detailed.
Ambience across the board is generally good, too. We get the usual city hubbub for the New York scenes - sirens, phones, car-horns, babble etc - and some more rustic cadences for the Wyoming portions - birdsong, the wind and a cleaner, more open soundscape for the little town and its ever-cheery denizens. The rodeo and the barn-dance sequences contain some degree of rear-support for the general hullabaloo, though this is kept realistic and natural and never draws attention to itself. Gunshots, by the way, are quite meaty. Especially during the rifle training that the Morgans undergo from Elliot and the 'burgen (that could be a TV show, couldn't it? Like BJ and the Bear, or TJ and the Hooker!) which boasts some walloping high-calibre tin-can puncturing, and the last-act siege when the killer tracks them down to the Marshal's ranch features some nicely rendered cracking glass as bullets smack through windows. And there is a little bit of steerage when Elliott tosses a horse's shoe across the soundfield during a pivotal moment.
As with the picture, folks, this track should keep the fans happy enough. It does everything that is asked of it, with no bells or whistles added, and it makes no mistakes. So that's a solid turn from an untaxed lossless track.
Oh, no, no, no ... you're kidding me! There's extras ... and a few of 'em, too!!!!
If you think that I'm going to sit through some EPK vomit about this travesty, then you can think again. There's some featurettes on the contrast of shooting in New York City and then shifting to New Mexico for the much prettier rural bits in Location, Location, Location. Then, if you've got a taste for it, there's a piece looking at the costumes in Park Avenue Meets The Prairie. Jeez, is this just because SJP is in the flick or what? Who cares? Then there's a fluffy featurette with the cast talking about their characters in Cowboys and Cosmopolitans, and a five-minute look at what it was like to shoot alongside a great big bear. Too bad we don't get to see it from the bear's point of view!
There is a commentary track from Hugh Grant and SJP and the deluded cash-on-delivery hack who directed them. This is as light and airy as you would expect, though there are a fair few technical pointers about how Lawrence shot things this way or that, and why. If you think that this will be anecdote-rife and funny, then you will be disappointed. There are laughs along the way, and some on-set reminiscences but this is mostly inane waffle about a film that they know is crud ... and that they know you know is crud. About half-way through, the trio seemed to lose steam and begin to dry up. I saw this as my chance and I bailed.
I looked at the Outtakes because I always love these things. You know actors getting things wrong, making mistakes, uttering stupid lines and struggling with the material and their own interpretation of their characters and the movie they are supposed to making ... hey, wait a minute, haven't I just sat through two hours of this already? Actually, there's some chuckle-worthy stuff here, most notably the embarrassingly protracted final segment in which Grant, SJP and the 'burgen crease-up, fluff lines and generally make a hash of an entire scene whilst, unbelievably, Sam Elliott soldiers on with his part. Literally why they kept on with this going-nowhere sequence to the bitter end is one of those great unsolved mysteries - right up there with why the mighty indestructible Elliott actually conceded to the ridiculous hair-cut that his character has in this film.
The International Special is a puff-pastry making of that looks like it might repeat a fair chunk of the other featurettes. I didn't bother it past the first couple of minutes. Nor should you, I'll wager.
Aye, there's a couple of Deleted Scenes here too. But, if you ask me, there's not enough of them ... if you know what I mean. Wink-wink!
Finally, there is Sony's Movie IQ and BD-Live capability.
Too much for this film, methinks.
Good, solid tripe supported by a surprising amount of extras. There are certainly people out there who enjoy this sort of thing - even me on the odd occasion - but Did You Hear About The Morgans? is a woeful waste of a hundred perfectly good minutes. Some nice photography, Sam Elliott's monumental 'tach and Mary Steenburgan showing off her curves in tight jeans are not good enough reasons to subject yourself to this lame farce. The leads are customarily appalling and Grant's casting is tantamount to putting cream tea and scones on a griddle. The potential for culture-clash comedy was rife, but unexplored beyond only the most superficial pap, and the relationship-qualms that form the backbone of the plot are rendered completely null and void because, A- both parties seem to be getting along remarkably well for the majority of the time and, B - we are under absolutely no illusion that the hit-man will not kill them and that they will, regrettably, wind-up living very happily ever-after. Spoiler? I don't think so. If you can't read exactly what is going to happen from one scene to the next then you have, indeed, fallen asleep. Which would be infinitely preferable to watching this, of course.
Sony's disc, however, is a good one. The image is basically a good, reassuring one that is bright and jolly and easy on the eye. The sound doesn't do anything extraordinary, but it delivers its goods very well indeed. And there's even quite a few extras on offer - although, in honesty, I couldn't recommend any of them. Or the film for that matter.
There's no romance, no comedy, no threat, no drama, no character to root for. In other words, no reason at all to bother with this empty shell of a production.
Even Louis (please don't make any more movies) Leterrier's Clash Of The Titans was a better romantic comedy than this.
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