It turns out this is a thing! Here I was thinking that “Love Actually” was one of those terrible movies that are fun to hate-watch when you’ve got nothing better to do on the Wednesday before Christmas, but actually a lot of people love this movie. And some of those people are, in fact, my friends. Rather than argue the merits of multiple story lines, or the range of Hugh Grant’s acting abilities, The Comedy Wives have decided to settle the matter: we herein give our opinions on whether we love or hate “Love Actually”, which will then become true and irrevocable fact. We will present compelling arguments for and against, and then we’ll leave the final verdict up to you.
Sarah: I first watched this movie sometime back in 2004 after it had been released on video (ha!). And I remember not being very impressed. And over the years I’d catch bits of it on tv, but it wasn’t until last year that I re-watched it from beginning to end. And I stand by my first impressions. The movie made me angry because the power dynamics in so many of the relationships were so obviously one-sided: there are, like, 10 storylines and how many of them feature wealthy/successful/older man paired with poorer/younger woman who works for that man!? I mean, come on. Only Laura Linney played a character whose love interest was her equal (possibly junior) and, of course, she does not get her man. Also, any movie that casts Colin Firth should be legally required to feature him at least 50% of the time.
Bonus, I asked my musician-husband Andrew if he thought “Love Actually” was a good movie. His answer: haha, no! The characters were so wooden, and I didn’t believe any of the relationships. Too many storylines, too, I kept on forgetting who was who.
Cat Raz: I would rather jab myself in the eye with a needle repeatedly than watch Love Actually. Its the kind of movie that reminds me why many people hate the holiday season. There are so many things wrong with the film, from the creepy stalker-ish nature of some of the story lines to the terribly cheesy soundtrack. But what bugs me most is that the film portrays Christmas as a romantic holiday. And I just don’t think that’s accurate. Christmas is about family and friendship and creating warmth of spirit during the darkest (from a sunlight perspective) time of year. Christmas is by far the least sexy of all the commercial holidays. And I strongly believe it should stay that way.
If you are looking for a different kind of holiday film, I strongly recommend Rare Exports (and not just for the full frontal male nudity.)
Monika: I don’t know, maybe I’m too easily influenced by well-placed dimples (definitely), but I just plain enjoyed Love Actually. I love romantic comedies and this is the motherload! Unlike much of the genre, this movie genuinely has funny moments, more on that later. There’s something fantastical and magical about the whole thing. Take Hugh Grant, specifically Hugh Grant’s dimples, perfectly cast in the most unrealistic storyline, but that’s OK, fantasy’s the thing. Hugh Grant is not a real person, nor should he ever be cast in a realistic role. Those roguish eyebrows and that charming smile do not exist in the realm of possibility, they belong in the beautiful, over the top, magical world of romantic comedy, where a super young prime minister can tell off Billy Bob president over a girl. Whatever, I’m into it.
Certainly any movie that has Alan Rickman in a brief but brilliant sketch with Mr. Bean is a good movie. End of story. Mr. Bean, who you find out later might be a Christmas angel when he delays the ticketing guy at the airport so the little boy can run through and declare his love for the little girl, gives Alan Rickman hell when he tries to buy a necklace for his work flirtation. (I love how the jewelry counter in this movie has one whole drawer of dried rose buds, and then another whole drawer of dried lavender!) Later you wonder if all this frou frou was just a ruse, that Mr. Bean, Christmas angel, was just trying to save Alan Rickman from himself.
Dinah: I thought Love Actually was OK, but I think it would have been better with a minor rewrite.
I think if they had Joanna get kidnapped by Albanians, that’d be an improvement. And then Liam Neeson would have to teach that kid how to love, but also how to take down an international sex trafficking ring.
And then you can just go ahead and get rid of the Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney and Keira Knightley storylines entirely.
And then I think you’d have a pretty good movie, actually.