Love Actually (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

"I got a part in the Nativity play. I'm a lobster."

"Oh .... um ... is that a good part?"

"Well, yes. I'm the FIRST lobster."


Love Actually is a Hugh Grant movie.

That would normally be a sufficient amount of commentary, since all Hugh Grant movies are alike, and in a typical case I would just be pointing you toward my comments about Two Weeks Notice rather than re-typing those remarks, but this particular Grant film requires some elaboration in that it is actually all Hugh Grant films. Yup, every single one. They have taken About a Boy, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Notting Hill, and all of the others, condensed each of them into a ten minute tidbit, then wound all of those individual stories together around a Christmas theme.

Since Mr Grant is not known for the great differentiation between his characters, it would be too confusing to have him play all nine of the male leads, even given a wide selection of disguises and an assortment of floppy hair colors. He is therefore assigned only to play a pseudo-Blair version of the Prime Minister, while various other lads are assigned to play the Hugh Grants of Christmas Past, Present and Future. By far the best of all the Hughs is Bill Nighy, the Ghost of Hugh Grant Yet to Come, who plays a character very much like Keith Richards, a 50ish rock star who is completely ashamed of a commercial holiday jingle he has recently recorded from one of his older songs which wasn't that good to begin with. As a man in the later portion of his life who has taken every shot and survived, he no longer cares what people say about him, so he throws all caution to the winds and tells the truth about everything, often in politically incorrect ways, and he absolutely steals the movie from the rest of the highly talented cast.

"So kids, just remember this message from your Uncle Billy:

Whatever you do, don't buy drugs ....

Just become a pop star and people will give them to you for free."

Hugh is, of course, playing the part of Hugh Grant. In fact, it is getting to the point in his career where there is really no need for his characters to have a different name from film to film. The directors may just as well call them all Hugh Grant. Like Pia Zadora, he is always playing himself. Except, of course, at a somewhat higher level than Pia Zadora. Well, that and the fact that Pia's a "her". But I digress.

Hugh does quite a good job playing the Prime Minister the way the British would like him to be: warm, human, and unwilling to let the single most important country in the development of the world be treated as a 51st state by America. (Billy Bob Thornton plays the American President as a slick but boorish cross between the worst aspects of Presidents Bush and Clinton, melding Clinton's personal amorality with Bush's geopolitical amorality.)


  • We see Martin Freeman and Joanna Page rehearsing various sex scenes. We see her bare breasts, the side of her bare butt  He's naked, except for her head in his crotch. There is one more such scene in the deleted scenes.
  • We see Lucia Moniz in her bra and panties as she strips down to jump into a lake
  • Laura Linney offers some views of the side of her bare breasts
  • We see Heike Makatsch in her panties and some lingerie.
  • We see footage of Bill Nighy performing nude on TV, with just a guitar covering his crotch.
  • Not everything works in this film. Some of the eleven thousand sub-plots deliver absolutely nothing to the film, and some of the situations dissolve into high schmaltz. And you have to drop the film several grades for the presence of Mr. Fucking Bean, who managed to make thirty seconds worth of material into what seemed like an hour's worth of shameless milking and mugging, as well as a level of twitching that would have embarrassed Art Carney.

    Critics were split. (Metacritic score: 56)

    Nonetheless, I praise it whole-heartedly. It's great to see somebody deliver a romantic comedy that is rated R because the people in it actually speak and otherwise behave like adults and not like some Disneyfied Hollywood version of how adults should behave in front of children.  And I don't mean that comment to be entirely about sex, language, and nudity. I mean that the characters think in all respects like mature adults, and behave accordingly. They speak from the heart, and they are often witty. Sometimes they regret what they say and do. Sometimes their souls reach lofty heights, and sometimes they screw the pooch.

    It is a film which manages to be both warm and edgy, a difficult combination to manage.

    In short, it is a romantic comedy which is both funny and romantic while remaining intelligent. Since there are so few films which accomplish that, we need to forgive its faults and love it unconditionally.

    "You mean there was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?"

    "Well ..duh"

    Scoop's additional comments after having seen the DVD:

    Because Love Actually is a fairly traditional romantic comedy, the situations are contrived. Unlike most American attempts at this genre, however, it actually does show recognizable human beings speaking in natural ways. It's rated R because it includes plenty of ribald humor, shows quite a bit of sex and nudity, and represents adults talking like and behaving like adults.

    More than anything else, it is a movie about how people cope. When it comes to the major changes in our lives, like weddings and deaths and falling in love, I suppose that "coping" is what more of us do more of than any other human activity - more than planning, certainly, because so few of us really can or do plan for the major changes in our life. In a very warm way, Love Actually shows a lot of people coping with romantic opportunities and romantic problems, often fucking up, sometimes moving forward.

    In a nutshell, I enjoyed it just as much the second time around. The script manages to cut the sentimentality with plenty of humor. Well, it diluted the sentimentality enough to satisfy me, but I guess I have to warn you that it is still a shamelessly sentimental movie which was intended as a Christmas film, and it also features Hugh Grant, so if that ain't yer cuppa java, stay away. If you have an open mind, you can get a lot of laughs out of it, and feel a lot of genuine interaction from the characters. I'm not a great fan of Mr Grant, but I thought he did a commendable job here as a pseudo-Blair Prime Minister who becomes the British hero of the hour when he stands up to the American President.

    The DVD is terrific. It has exactly the features I want. (1) a good widescreen anamorphic transfer (2) full length commentary by three witty guys, writer/director Richard Curtis, and actors Hugh Grant and Bill Nighy (3) a ton of deleted scenes brought up close to "finished" quality, introduced and explained by the director, then presented in their entirety without interruption. (4) special bonus: more nudity in the deleted footage!

    The deleted footage also includes another scene of Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) being incredibly naughty in a semi-public place! Pretty funny scene.

    Billy Mack, to a rep from his PR firm: "How old are you Gina, 12? 13?"

    Gina: "I'm 24 actually, how old are YOU?"

    "I'm 94 Gina. Have you ever given a blowjob to a very old man?"

    Curtis also points out in the deleted footage that his first cut was nearly three and a half hours long. The fact that he had to cut it approximately in half explains what I felt to be the film's only major weakness - the fact that there seemed to be too many sub-plots for the running time, which made some of the stories seem unnecessary, while others seem unfinished or underdeveloped.

    Good DVD. First class all the way.

    Info to purchase the Region 2 DVD from Amazon UK

    the DVD is an excellent widescreen transfer, and includes more than 30 minutes of deleted scenes, some of which are quite entertaining.

    Info to purchase the Region 1 DVD from Amazon

    same features

    Info to purchase the screenplay from Amazon

    Tuna's comments in yellow:

    Had I read a plot outline before seeing it, I would have passed completely. The plot outline would read like a sappy romantic comedy with way too many characters and too many happy endings. Amazingly, what I screened today is one of the best films of last year. For those who haven't seen it, I am not going to reveal much of the plot, other than to say it is the story of several loosely interrelated couples and their romances set in London in the month leading up to Christmas. I can't recall a better piece of ensemble acting than this huge cast displayed, and the pace was perfect, switching from one subplot to another before I tired of it. The net effect was that I was glad every time characters reappeared to advance their subplot further.

    Deleted scenes are a must watch for us, as they often have additional nudity, which was the case here, but they are usually work print quality, and it is clear why they were deleted. In this case, the deleted scenes are decent transfers, but, more important than that, are all good enough to have remained in the film. The cuts were strictly for running time, as a film well in excess of three hours would not have been commercial. Each deleted scene had extra information, and entire subplots ended up on the cutting room floor. Be sure to watch them.

    I adored this film, which has many plusses, including uniformly good performances, interesting characters, good direction, excellent production value and great pace. I had a smile on my face the entire running time, and there was a belly laugh or two in the mix.

    The Critics Vote ...

    • US panel: three and a quarter stars. Ebert 3.5/4, Berardinelli 3/4.

    • General UK consensus: three stars. Mail 10/10, Independent 4/10, Guardian 4/10, Times 8/10, Sun 7/10, Express 8/10, Mirror 8/10, BBC 4/5. As you can see from the first two scores, there was quite a diversity of opinion.

    The People Vote ...

    • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 7.7/10, Yahoo voters score it an A-.
    • Box Office Mojo. It was a monstrous international hit. It did a solid $59 million in the USA, but $181 million overseas. It grossed 36 million pounds in the UK, about equivalent to an American movie grossing $250 million, given the population difference and currency adjustment. The budget was about $45 million.

    Miscellaneous ...

    The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

    My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

    Based on this description, Scoop says, "This is a B-. I think you will find it a perfect date movie that will be enjoyed by people of both sexes. Best of all, the film offers an automatic bathroom break. About halfway through the film, Mr Bean is on for about two minutes of his usual babbling and mugging. If you leave when you see him, head to the bathroom and obtain relief, you will return just in time for the movie to resume its forward momentum, and you will not have missed anything except some irritatingly mannered music hall schtick." Tuna says, "This is a solid B, a romantic comedy with high crossover appeal."

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