New York City real estate developer George Wade goes through lawyers the way other millionaire playboys go through girlfriends. Of course, they’re one and the same for George, who habitually hires undereducated bimbos to handle his briefs. Their constant legal miscues force George’s business-partner brother to issue an ultimatum: Find the firm a qualified, Ivy League chief counsel or be forced to step aside. Meanwhile, lawyer Lucy Kelson has a reputation for eschewing the big bucks to help the little guy. She nobly defends children and homeless people, stages protest rallies against the dynamiting of old buildings, and is dating "a dedicated environmental warrior." Betcha can’t guess where this one’s going! Lucy gets an offer she can’t refuse from George, and takes the job in order to save a community center targeted for demolition. After nearly a year of slaving away as George’s strictly professional assistant, she’s gives him her two weeks notice. But she can’t leave until she helps him hire a replacement. During this process Lucy meets June, the woman who’ll fill her shoes, and has second thoughts about leaving George. Will she stay? Does George share her feelings? What about June? And why hasn’t George been sued into bankruptcy by all of those jilted former in-house lawyers/girlfriends? The film answers all of those questions (except the last one) while trading heavily on deadpan humor, physical comedy and the audience’s desire to see these likable leads find their soul mate.
positive elements: Even if viewers don’t completely agree with Lucy’s politics (she an ecologically obsessed, anti-Bush liberal openly hostile toward corporate America), her willingness to stand up for what she believes at great personal cost is admirable. She’s a hard worker with a strong sense of community and a loving relationship with her supportive parents. Lucy draws a line early in her relationship with the philandering George, telling him she won’t sleep with him, and doesn’t (though she comes close once while under the influence of alcohol). Lucy warns a young girl under George’s spell to go home before she does something she’ll regret. Lucy complains about the relational stress and inner turmoil created by her mother’s unrealistically high expectations of her, to which George—shallow, selfish and never urged to be anything more—responds that it’s better than no one having expectations. Lucy challenges George to use his money and influence for good. She eventually tells him that she thinks more of him and his potential than he does. George rescues Lucy from an embarrassing situation, refuses to take advantage of her when she’s inebriated, and makes a supreme sacrifice to fulfill a promise to her. He is kind to servants and autograph seekers alike. Lucy’s father is optimistic about the ability for people to turn a positive corner in their lives ("As long as people can change, the world can change").
sexual content: We learn early on that George—still in the final stages of a divorce—is a shameless womanizer. It is excused to a certain degree because his wife has also been playing the field. Dialogue implies that Lucy has made sex part of her dating relationships. While drunk, she says she is great in bed, and propositions George by telling him she’s aggressive and very flexible ("I’m a bobcat ... I can bend like a pretzel"). Other sexual humor includes a scene in a men’s room where they are caught in an innocent, yet compromising position (somehow Lucy’s hair gets caught in George’s belt). June convinces George to play a game of strip chess. Lucy walks in on them in their underwear and, shaken by this relational setback, lies about having a man waiting for her in her bed. This casual treatment of sex as a "given" for dating singles is the most disturbing part of the film. As is the case in so many modern romantic comedies, we’re rooting for a character to find lasting love with an extremely promiscuous partner whose sexual history would have to include all kinds of emotional, if not bacteriological baggage.
violent content: George’s soon-to-be ex-wife throws water in Lucy’s face and is restrained from attacking her further. Women scuffle over a stapler.
crude or profane language: About a dozen TV-grade profanities (SOB, h---, a--, d--n). More than half of them are exclamations such as "oh god" or "my god," and there’s one such use of Jesus’ name.
drug and alcohol content: Depressed about a breakup, Lucy gets falling-down drunk and passes out after coming on to George. Her condition is played for laughs, though a hangover the next morning—and the uncertainty of whether she gave in sexually while intoxicated—implies consequences. Ladies at a party order champagne and Scotch. June asks George to bring her a beer, and a little later is shown getting them another round during strip chess.
other negative elements: Lucy’s friend develops a rather bleak outlook on her new marriage, viewing it as a dark cloud threatening her freedom and independence.
conclusion: I don’t feel I’m compromising my manhood to admit that I enjoy fresh, funny romantic comedies. That includes Big Fat Greek ones. So there’s no inherent football spiking, socket wrench turning, macho bias at work when I say that Two Weeks Notice was created for undemanding romantics who’ve been pining over the recent drought of by-the-numbers Nora Ephron films. Here we have another lightweight set of contrivances that, in the first 10 minutes, gives you everything you need to know to figure out the last 10 minutes. Where but in Hollywood can two antagonistic opposites with a deep-seated disdain for everything the other stands for so consistently end up madly in love? Been there. Done that. Got the his-and-her matching monogrammed bath towels.
In spite of this significant shortcoming, Two Weeks Notice isn’t without its occasional charms. The likable Grant and Bullock share good chemistry, making the tired formula more bearable. His boyish decency and dry wit, paired with her winsome, lonely-hearts-club lack of situational savoir-vivre, work well together, even if their performances feel warmed over from other, better films. You’re not watching George and Lucy; your watching Hugh and Sandra. But for die-hard fans, that will be enough. If only the movie’s sweet and funny moments weren’t marred by sexual repartee and a preachy, left-leaning social agenda. But that’s pretty much par for the course. And if Two Weeks Notice is anything, it’s predictable.