For our third re-view this week, please welcome our newest contributor, Jo Jo Stiletto. A former derby queen and current Professor of Nerdlesque, she is the producer of Whedonesque Burlesque and the upcoming Burl-X-Files.
Andrew Dice Clay really likes Sandra Bullock. This is what I have learned since my first viewing of Two Weeks Notice. This small nugget of knowledge is forever lodged in my noggin due to one very important trip to Vegas. Don’t ask how I, a reasonably literate, feminist, thespian type, ended up seeing the Diceman while mostly sober in Sin City. I promise it was for noble reasons. In 2010 I anticipated seeing a tired old comedian telling tired old sexiest-slash-homophobic jokes to an audience of knuckle-dragging perverts. Unexpectedly, only the latter was true. To be fair, some nights I fit into the category of knuckle-dragging pervert.
In my defense, I went to this comedy show out of love for my then boyfriend. We got married the next day. It was an unplanned marriage and, surprise! – we are still married. I saw Andrew Dice Clay on the eve of my wedding and this is my lasting impression of the show: ten minutes straight of material about how everybody loves Sandy B and how dare her husband cheat on her! It was almost….touching. Love and defense delivered with glee by the once-sexist comic. The Diceman loves Sandy B and no man may besmirch her name. Surprise!
Scientific Fact: Everybody loves Sandra Bullock and the wizards of Hollywood bank on this so heavily that they will plop her into any film with nary a care on the likability of any other element of the film. Add in a mumbling well-dressed Hugh Grant and, bam, success! Our cultural love affair with Sandy B isn’t a significant change from ten years ago. Yet, a major Bullock Paradigm shift has occurred. She is more than America’s sweetheart; she is America’s Oscar-winning, adorable baby-adopting sweetheart. You may recall that the same year she won the Oscar for the The Blind Side she also won the Razzie for worst actress for All About Steve. I found her hilarious and likeable when she accepted the trophy in person, offering to take everyone out for drinks if they could offer her better line readings. Oh, and she went through a crazy tabloid-focused divorce and adoption – all while maintaining her silence, charm and wit in public. Sir Diceman is correct. She’s like the popular girl in high school you want to hate but end up rooting for as homecoming queen. Against my will and better judgment I, too, genuinely want to root for Sandra Bullock.
Yet, in revisiting the film Two Weeks Notice, I realize that the Bullock Paradigm Shift does not alter my reading of this film. The bland slurry of sad screwball comedy, blah banter and extended poop jokes still don’t win me over. Perhaps, even, the film has grown staler with age. Sandra’s character feels sadder. Hugh Grant is so Hugh Granty it literally makes me cringe. It’s not a fine wine. It might be a Boone’s Farm, a cheap and almost drinkable imitation of a real movie. I had intended to easily write one thousand words on this movie and send in this review early. It seems the movie actually sucked away my creativity. Gone. Poof.
Ten years ago at age 24 I would have described this movie as “eh, something boring and inoffensive that I went to see with my Mom and sister.” This is how I’d describe it now: “Two Weeks Notice is the ‘charming’ story of a feminist environmentalist killjoy and an asshole British playboy who, despite all odds and funny poops, fall in love.” It seems only my patience has changed. I want to like its promise of romantic screwball comedy but it never delivers anything more compelling than one of those Melissa Joan Hart “fake fiancé”-style made for television movies one would expect to find on the ABC Family network.
Two Weeks Notice is clearly nodding to films like His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby, some of my personal all-time favorites. Maybe that’s the real problem I have. Those movies were my favorites ten years ago and they still are my favorites. Choosing to re-watch Two Weeks Notice reminds me why I avoid 99% of all Hollywood-created romantic comedies made in my adult life. It’s hard to recreate the magic of those older films. When Harry Met Sally managed to pull it off. Hollywood, please stop trying!
Rex Reed of the New York Times wrote ”this is the kind of movie where the big scene is a man shot out of a cannon into a vat of ice cream.” In retrospect, based on that description alone, I should have grown to at least appreciate its loveable “badness.” Can this movie be so bad it’s good? I can’t even call it truly wonderawful. It’s only just terrible. Sandy B can’t save the day.
In re-watching, I thought a lot about the joy of failure. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. David Schmeader, a man made famous by his hilarious public screenings and live commentary of the filmShowgirls, once described the six necessary factors in creating a truly horrible film. Like David, I find delight in films that reach the pinnacle of failure. In addition to Showgirls, Roadhouse also tops his list along with such films as Leonard Part 6 starring Bill Cosby.
I remembered only two of the necessary six factors of failure in re-watching Two Weeks Notice. Thus, for me, it even fails at being so awful it’s fun.
To wrap things up, here are those two factors, as I recall them, and a few supporting examples.
Failure Factor – Nauseating tonal shifts: the film waffling from one tone to another with no skill or purpose.
Example 1: The before-mentioned poop scene. You see, Sandy B eats a hot dog and then they get stuck in traffic and holy moly things get REAL urgent. It’s been pointed out to me by the editor of this blog that it was part of Hollywood’s reaction to the popularity of gross-out comedy. Still, someone sat down and actually made the choice to have Sandra Bullock shuffle from car to motor home in her white tennis skirt while forcing the audience to think “diarrhea diarrhea diarrhea.” Then, ah, back to the romance.
Example 2: Clown, cannon, ice cream. Sandy arrives in a pretty dress to an expensive fundraiser. You can see this building to be the scene in which we really believe this couple WANTS to get together but they just can’t seem to ever find the right timing. Or maybe they can. And, oh yea, clown, cannon, ice cream!
Failure Factor – Icky sex or sexual situations: Sex or sexy things that are not are totally not cool. Please recall the pool scene in Showgirls or, if you are lucky, the food-based foreplay of Bill Cosby in Leonard Part 6. Shudder.
Example: Her hair, his zipper and the lingering feeling that Hugh Grant’s penis is always going to be a bad punch line.