"Two Weeks Notice" is a Warner Brothers romantic comedy released for the 2002 Christmas feel-good season. It partners Hugh Grant with Sandra Bullock and is set in New York City. A backdrop of well-observed minor characters embody the vulpine, amoral avarice fueling much real estate speculation, while the leads humanize the industry's often shadowy figures, finding movie-believable redemption in weaknesses that would actually destroy their successful careers.
Developing the Two Lead Characters
Bullock plays Lucy Kelson, a hard-working lawyer specializing in real estate. A brilliant multi-tasker and corporate strategist, she is intimately familiar with the playboy reputation earned by her boss, George Wade, the Grant character: He is a billionaire developer who has retained a sometimes-endearing immaturity despite his great wealth and success. His self-absorbed nature is offset by bursts of smart, ineffable, floppy-haired charm. Wade is intent on demolishing the Coney Island Community Center to make way for another project. Kelson has fond memories of both the building and the facility from her childhood and determines to block his ambitions.
When Wade loses his chief counsel, he sets about wooing Kelson to step into the position. Kelson feels this opportunity would allow her an inside track to protecting the community center she is so fond of and accepts the position. Kelson soon becomes aware that Wade is a needy individual and his personality requires constant affirmation. He is soon seeking advice from Kelson on every aspect of his life, private as well as corporate, which tires and irritates her. From Wade's childlike perspective, the smallest hiccups in his life should eclipse the largest concerns of others. After several years in-post Kelson tires of this dependence and tenders her resignation; the two weeks notice of the title.
First They Drift Apart
Wade sets about persuading Kelson to stay, using nefarious -- and amusingly doomed -- methods to prevent her being offered other work. Ultimately failing, he mandates that her last job be hiring her own replacement. She chooses June Carver, played by Alicia Witt, a scheming, calculating flirt with an eye as much for Wade's millions as for her workplace opportunities. Carver's presence in the office is instrumental in weakening Kelson's resolve to leave, but ultimately she has left herself no choice. Where money, convenience and loyalty have failed, simple female jealousy has succeeded; she realizes she loves Wade.
Then They Come Together
Faced with the clashing contrasts in the two women's characters, Wade comes to understand that he loves Kelson, valuing her decency and honor as much as her competence. He refrains from demolishing her beloved community center, despite the inevitably massive financial losses incumbent in this decision, then seeks her out and instigates an exchange that ends with their revealing romantic feelings for each other. The pairing of the two actors, who both specialize in endearing lovelorn roles for whom everything works out in the end, has made it obvious from the outset that they will end up in each others arms. Ah yes; they do, but the rote scripting is more than offset by the pair's chemistry.