Liz Tells Frank Stuff She Forgot About “Love Actually”

Dear Frank,

Love_Actually_movieHappy holidays! A time of shopping, togetherness, and debating whether Love Actually, Richard Curtis’s 2003 Christmas romantic comedy to end all Christmas romantic comedies, is the absolute worst or the absolute best.

Every time I watch it, I’m not really sure of the answer. I mean, I adore some percentage of it, and I loathe some other percentage, and because the movie is fundamentally schizophrenic, that percentage is never the same twice.

But there is a lot to love, especially if you’re like me, and looking up cast lists on the IMDB is like breathing. EVERYONE is in this movie, Frank. Rewatch it, and you will be slapped upside the head with near-constant “WOW, seriously, them too?” From the obscure (hi, Nina Sosanya!) to the more memorable (Bill Nighy! Bill Nighy!) I’m sure there at least three delightful surprises waiting for you in the cast.

Speaking of things that are perfect in this movie: Martin Freeman, being naked and adorable as a stand-in on a very naked film set. Have I mentioned before how much I love Martin Freeman? I love him a lot, Frank. I may be very very worried about watching him get attacked by giant spiders in December 2013. But between Sherlock and his few brief scenes in this movie, I’ll cope.

In this scene, Martin Freeman is saying "It's Junction 13 that's just murder, isn't it? Total gridlock this morning." Because he is perfect.

In this scene, Martin Freeman is saying “It’s Junction 13 that’s just murder, isn’t it? Total gridlock this morning.” Because he is perfect.

Other things that are perfect in this movie: Colin Firth’s awkward adorable relationship with his Portuguese housekeeper, largely because as soon as they start subtitling her dialogue, she becomes a fun vibrant character who totally sasses him tons and GOD DAMN IT Colin Firth is so good at the charming stuttering British thing! So good!

I would give him the title over Hugh Grant, and Hugh Grant is a fucking LEGEND in the category. He holds up his own here pretty well. His take on Prime Minister-ing is, um, unique: I enjoy the part where in his fifteen minutes or so on screen, he never once mentions an actual defineable political issue — and there are like multiple scenes of him pretending to do political things.

As for the Laura Linney storyline, where she gives up her work crush to take care of her mentally handicapped brother — well, I’ll let my friend Jessica cover this one:

Oh, with this addendum: Karl, Laura’s work crush, is played by an actor named Rodrigo Santoro, who is very very pretty, and looks fantastic in and out of clothes, and you might remember him better as Paulo, of Nikki and Paulo from Lost. To turn Rodrigo into an ordinary London graphic designer, and not what he is (an underwear model), they do this:

GLASSES! HIS HOTNESS IS NOW A SECRET.

GLASSES! HIS HOTNESS IS NOW A SECRET.

And by the way, it’s TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE, how Laura hooking up with work crush Karl is nudged along by her boss Alan Rickman, but it barely makes an impact because of how much crap accumulates around Alan Rickman’s character.

UGH UGH UGH The Alan Rickman/slutty secretary storyline is just as shitty as I remembered. I just hate how one-dimensional the slutty secretary is — there’s no explanation for why she’s throwing herself at her married boss, she just is because she’s an asshole, and she leads to Emma Thompson crying, and that is UN-FUCKING-ACCEPTABLE.

Though to the movie’s credit, the scene where Emma Thompson realizes that Alan Rickman has (if not physically then emotionally) betrayed her is heartbreaking but beautifully executed. It makes you wonder how this movie was made by a guy who also thought that a good storyline for his big ode to romantic comedies was a bit where a rather nebbishy British guy goes to America to fuck a bunch of random hot girls.

Oh, but hi January Jones! And ELISHA CUTHBERT! You are super super funny on "Happy Endings."

Oh, but hi January Jones! And ELISHA CUTHBERT! Elisha, you are super super funny on “Happy Endings.”

In general, the level of lady objectification here is off the charts — there are at least a half-dozen references to supermodels and the attainment thereof. Which is so weird, because when the movie isn’t treating women like blow-up dolls, it features an adorably curvy young lass making out with Hugh Grant and Laura Linney wearing an increasingly bizzare selection of hats and coats.

And all the music choices are pure over-the-top teeth-grating cheese, but Andrew Lincoln is so much more likeable than he is on The Walking Dead! And GOD I need to mention again how much I hate Mia the slutty secretary, but that scene where Hugh Grant dances to the Pointer Sisters is so delightful that I ended up watching it twice! In part because my mom wandered in after that scene had ended and she was sad that she missed it, because there is nothing the plus-50 ladies love more than Hugh Grant shaking his booty. But also in part because Hugh Grant dancing to the Pointer Sisters is pretty delightful–

Like I said: Schizophrenic. In that it’ll drive you crazy.

The way to think about Love Actually, I suppose, is this: I haaaaaaaaate Christmas music 362 days of the year. Really, really fucking hate it. Because seriously, is there anything worse than Christmas music when you’re not in the mood for Christmas music? The answer is nope. It’s kinda the worst.

But then, there are those three days a year when you can overlook the cheese and the forced merriment and just see the love, companionship and spirit of the holiday. Whether that’s represented through Bing Crosby crooning about a white Christmas or Liam Neeson helping an adorable moppet connect with the first love of his life is your call. The point is, Frank, there’s this one sweet spot of the year when it just works. When it actually does feel like love is all around.

Happy holidays,
Liz

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About Liz Shannon Miller

Liz Shannon Miller, based in Los Angeles, is a writer for the screen and the web, her work including G4's Attack of the Show and the tech blog GigaOM. She also co-hosts the podcast Timey Wimey TV, contributes to the video curation site Here's Some Awesome, and tells her friend Frank about stuff at Liz Tells Frank.

Posted on December 25, 2012, in Movies, Some Spoilers and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Andrew Lincoln is Captain Creep in this movie. There is no other way to see it.

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