Notting Hill. Four
Weddings and a Funeral. Bridget Jones' s Diary. What do
all of these films have in common?
A) They all are touching movies that show the bittersweet nature of
ephemeral yet everlasting love.
B) They all star British heartthrob Hugh Grant.
C) They all are exactly the same movie.
Many men, dragged kicking and screaming by their
wives/girlfriends/dates would argue that the correct answer is C.
Love, Actually can easily be added to the above list, whichever
answer you choose.
If you can't convince your date to go see
Kill Bill again, don't dread seeing
Love, Actually too much. It does a fine job for what it's
trying to do. Just like Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a
Funeral, and Bridget Jones's Diary. For those of you
who are eagerly awaiting the sequel to Bridget Jones's Diary (Bridget
Jones: the Edge of Reason), this film may give you the
chick-flick-fix you need to tide you over until it's released in 2004.
Love, Actually is one of those films with several stories
going on at once. Lots of couples, living their lives, going
through their relationship trials and tribulations. They don't
seem to be connected, but they overlap in parts. It's almost like
watching a PBS documentary about charming British couples, although they
do sneak in a few Americans.
The all-star cast includes Hugh Grant (who plays the Prime
Minister of England), Colin Firth (Bridget Jones's Diary
-- he's kind of like a back-up Hugh Grant), Laura Linney (Mystic
River (2003), The Truman Show (1998)), Liam Neeson (Star
Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Darkman (1990),
and Krull (1983)), Keira Nightly (Pirates of the
Caribbean (2003)), Martin McCutcheon (hmmmm...nothing much
yet), Bill Nighy (he played Viktor the head vampire in
Underworld (2003)) Alan Rickman (the bad guy from the first
Die Hard (1988)), Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility
(1995), Remains of the Day (1993)), and Rowan Atkinson (Bean
(1997), Johnny English (2003)) . There are also a
number of cameos which won't be spoiled here.
The acting is good across the board. There aren't any Academy
Award (tm) moments in the film, but it mixes sad moments with happy
moments and sappy gushy lovey-dovey moments. It's all well-done,
and never gets too hokey.
Liam Neeson's scenes co-feature a young boy named Thomas Sangster.
You may remember him from such TV movies as "Hitler: The Rise of Evil."
He played a young Hitler, which always looks good on a resume.
He's a very fine child actor, and he provides many of the movie's best
moments. One might even believe that he got the part due to his
acting skills, and the fact that his cousin is Hugh Grant had nothing to
do with it.
All of the mini love stories play well, actually, in Love,
Actually. Dare the Masked Reviewer say it...there's something
for everyone. At least, there's something for everyone who likes
these kind of date movies. Everything works, and you'll be
interested in how each story turns out. They didn't resolve all of
the loose ends, but they got most of them. They also didn't do a
great job of explaining how all of these people tie together, but for
the most part you saw why everyone was in one movie.
An important note is that Alan Rickman looks better with a beard.
If he has a beard in a film, he'll be good. He was good in this
film, but he didn't have a beard. If the box office isn't kind to
the movie (which seems unlikely), the filmmakers should go back and
digitally draw a beard on him. We have the technology. We
can make him hairier than before. Hairier...scruffier...fuzzier.
Another point of interest is that Hugh Grant plays Emma Thompson's
big brother. Perhaps "big brother" in England means "younger",
like how they drive on the wrong side of the road or something.
Emma Thompson is actually older than Hugh Grant, but then again, maybe
she was acting.
There is a good amount of nudity in this film. Director Richard
Curtis (who wrote Bridget Jones's Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral,
and Notting Hill) shows great respect for the men who will
be forced into seeing this film by throwing in a few bare breasts.
For that, we salute him.
All in all, Love, Actually is sentimental, touching, and
sweet. It's like Parenthood if it were set in England, but
before they had kids. Perhaps it's not that much like
If you love Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones's
Diary, and Notting Hill...well, you're absolutely sure to
love Love, Actually. If you couldn't stand those films,
there is a possibility that Love, Actually may still appeal to
you on some level, since they tell several different sappy-sweet love
stories, and cover a variety of issues. There's also some nudity.
But unless you hated those other films, there's a good chance
that you'll find it enjoyable even if it's not your -- to quote the
British -- "cup o' tea." It's well-acted, nicely paced, and a
movie that makes you feel good.
Expectation from the Title: Expectation, indeed. Title,
ambiguous. Pretentious, somehow.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
Something for everyone to enjoy: love, heartbreak, romance, passion,
flirtation, secret liaisons, and smooching.
The Pros: Cute, sentimental, light, funny at times, well
The Cons: This is like the female-oriented equivalent of the
testosterone driven action blockbuster. It's the estrogen filled
tender love story. Hugh Grant is women's answer to Steven Segal.