“Two Weeks Notice” continues Hugh Grant’s forays in the romantic comedy genre. Grant plays George Wade – a wealthy man, but more simply, the public face of a large corporation. Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) is a lawyer who always seems to be fighting for a cause to aid humanity and counters Wade’s attributes.
Their relationship is contrasted from the very beginning of the film with a beautiful title sequence that displays comparative childhood photo albums. When Wade’s brother forces him to find a new lawyer (one that Wade will not sleep with), fate steps in with Lucy, who approaches him in hopes of convincing him not to destroy a historic building in Coney Island.
Lucy is swept into Wade’s limo, and before she knows it, finds herself working for the man she stands morally against. Her hope is that by working for George she can help save the building, thus doing some good in exchange for working with her enemy.
A series of flash-forward sequences ensue detailing the minor disasters leading Lucy to give her “two weeks notice” to George. These vignettes come to a climax when Lucy is pulled away from a friend’s wedding to help the absent-minded millionaire pick out a suit. Since her contract is quite binding, and George has made it impossible for her to find work elsewhere, Lucy tries to get fired. George tells her he knows the game she is playing. Only when she agrees to find a replacement does George concede.
“Two Weeks Notice” starts at a quick pace by means of its fast-forwards, maintining a decent comedic atmosphere. Through subtle nuances in the dialogue and actions, the relationship potential between the seemingly polar opposites is foreshadowed.
The film is not a Pygmalionesque tale, or a variant of “Pretty Woman” as one might expect from two such characters. The strong will and independence of Bullock’s character keeps her at a distance from such a trap, but at times her “sweet innocence” comes through and compromises some of her internal values. However, this flaw does not necessarily weaken Bullock’s character in feminist terms, but more simply shows her as a woman with too much love and compassion for others while just wanting someone to love her for a change.
The chemistry between Grant and Bullock never seems to gel completely. Through the addition of a “third wheel” – the woman Bullock hires as a replacement – the film is finally able to create the tension required to make the main characters explore and realize their feelings for each other. Perhaps the most tragic mistake of the film, it chooses to use another woman to create a “crowd.” By choosing to make the third wheel another woman, “Two Weeks” turns into the stereotypical male fantasy of two women vying for his love. This type of circle downplays the female lead, heightens the male ego and is something that a romantic comedy should not try to do. George crawls back to Lucy in the end, which places the characters in their necessary positions, but this becomes nothing more than a means to an end.
Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant are both great players of romantic comedy, but their chemistry in “Two Weeks Notice” never seems to foster anything close to a “Love Potion #9.” “Two Weeks Notice” is at times witty and most definitely comic, but the romance never reaches its full potential.