dir: Richard Curtis
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This is a singular work of staggering banality. Now, that’s an achievement and a half. From the makers of such romantic classics as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill to make a film that eclipses those in terms of superficiality and mawkish sentimentality takes a phenomenal amount of skill, money and enough ham to cover the Tower of London three times over in order to achieve their goals. And goddamn them, they get there in the end.
I hate to say it, but this 2 hour commercial for whatever the hell it is that director Richard Curtis is ineptly selling made me want to destroy Christmas forever. If anything, despite the clear intention set out in the movie’s title to be a concentrated explosion of goodwill and love towards all men and women, this film, I believe, has decreased the amount of love that was previously available in the world. If you are a person for whom there is no more love, for whatever you thought was the reason you could get no love in your life, this crappy flick is responsible.
The stories, all fifteen or so of them, as put together make the movie overall seem like a two hour clip show from a particularly awful and unfunny sitcom, albeit one with decent production levels and enough of a budget to be able to afford at least one hundred tired cliché romantic tracks from the 70s and 80s. Every other minute of the movie has its own song on the soundtrack. It’s a procession from one awful track to another, which not only surmounts but exceeds anything happening on the screen. Which isn’t too bad. If you’re busy guessing which shitfest song from the 80s is going to appear next on the soundtrack, at least you’ll have something to keep you occupied. For as they say, the devil finds work for idle hands.
Speaking as one of His human resource consultants, I can tell you that Satan Himself had a hand in the production of this movie. He, in His infinite depravity decided that the best way to turn people off of the idea of love, and the idea that love has any worth in this cold, hostile universe was to represent ‘love’ in such a facile, docile, mawkish, ugly fashion that people would rather shoot themselves in the head. There is no love in this film in the way that there are no characters in this film. They might have names, but clearly all these ‘characters’ were designed by marketers that wished to give particular demographics a name and a face. Nice one, chaps. Sorted.
That love exists in this universe and that it can be a supremely redemptive (and destructive) force is something that I do not doubt, having felt, endured and enjoyed its beautiful and malignant sides many a time over the course of my life. That love is represented as such a trifle, a pointless fluffy bauble, with no greater constancy or merit than the prize at the bottom of a cereal packet cheapens my life and yours, dearest reader.
There are something like thirty characters in this fucked up story. All of them are connected in genuinely pointless ways, in that most of them simply ‘know’ another person for whatever reason and that’s that. Just to show that, you know, we are all connected. Man. They all have names, but such little time is spent with any of them that there hardly seems any point. The one time the story aims for some significance with a story aspect that isn’t marshmallow flavoured (where a character deals with her schizophrenic brother), it embarrasses itself by trying to hide the fact that the team of writers must have decided “Uh, let’s put a serious bit in here, it can’t all be beer and skittles” and then don’t know what to do with it, so they drop the story completely.
For the first half hour or so of the film, each and every actor at some point had what is known in the business as a shit-eating grin, as if to say “Gee, aren’t we having fun?” It’s like people on game shows being told to grin inanely to let the audience at home know what fun they’re having. As well during this time we are introduced to all our empty characters, all played by some truly excellent people, and then we’re shown generally the character that they are ‘meant’ to be with, usually within the first five seconds. The rest of the film chugs along delaying the inevitable by an hour and fifty five minutes.
And, gee, isn’t swearing funny? If you have a character say “shit” or “fuck” in a situation where they’re not supposed to, the audience is just going to piss themselves with glee, aren’t they? I mean, surely I hear the word “fuck” so rarely that naturally when someone in a Richard Curtis movie says it I rupture at least one of my kidneys from my earthshaking guffaws.
The sheer multitude of storylines would lead you to think that at least one or two out of them would be entertaining, or even mildly amusing. Oh foolish human! How hope springs eternal and makes fools out of us all. There is nothing going on. The lights aren’t on, there’s no-one home, the fridge is empty and the bar is dry.
Although I think that one point the movie gets across and gets across well is the idea that the women in the US are all hot sluts who’ll fuck a nobody simply because he has an English accent, and despite the fact that he has a face like road kill. I can’t tell you how funny I found it when an arsehole English fuckwit decides that women in the UK are all stuck up bitches, and the place to go for some quality trim is Wisconsin. Once he decides to go to Wisconsin, he appears in Milwaukee (?), and proceeds to get down and dirty within hours of getting off the plane with some hot babes.
Wow, what wonders that will do for tourism.
We are introduced to a character at the start who’s a washed up rock star (Bill Nighy). He records a version of ‘Love is all around’ which is even more dire than the original or the appropriately named Wet Wet Wet version, where Christmas is substituted for ‘love’ in the lyrics. After 8 interminable minutes of this, the character turns to his manager and enunciates “This is Shit!” The manager replays “This is Solid Gold Shit!”
Throughout the rest of the flick there are scenes where he’s promoting this awful crime against humanity by asking people to buy it whilst telling them how shit it is. Other people in the story comment on how crap it is, yet later on it becomes the number 1 single in the land. Which is apparently a cause for celebration.
It doesn’t take someone genetically related to Sigmund Freud to work out what the fuck is going on here. The makers know how truly awful this flick is. They’re telling us that they know, too. But they still want us to buy it. Please, pretty please?
It’s called autocriticism, the bizarre theory being that if you criticise your own stuff first, other people will be more kind to it because they think you’re being some flavour of ironic. I have no shame in bursting anyone’s bubble here, but if something is crap, then simply it’s crap. You made something crap, the fact that you know it makes it even more reprehensible in that you still decided to inflict it upon the greater public.
I don’t doubt for a moment that this film achieved some modicum of success at the box office. See, there are a lot of stupid people in this world. And it’s not just men. There are a stack of stupid women in this world as well. If not, then who else would be buying all those glossy celebrity gossip magazines where non-information is doled out about people famous for no other talent apart from being famous, and those other ‘women’s’ magazines where their readership is perpetually told they’re fat failures that’ll never amount to anything anywhere near as valuable as the slag on the cover, yet they buy it anyway.
But I truly lament the state of the world where anyone can derive anything but embarrassment from such a transparently empty piece of crap as this. Another of the characters is played by Hugh Grant, who appears to be the Prime Minister of the UK. All well and good. He is given a jaw-droppingly egregious speech criticising the United States because they’re acting like bullies towards Great Britain, and he wants to stand up for the home team. Apart from the patent meaninglessness of the speech, and the shameless attempt to pander to some perceived segment of the UK market, what irritates me the most is that the only reason he does any of this is because the rakish president (Billy Bob Thornton) makes some salacious remark to the tea lady that the PM has a hard on for. Add to that the fact that they keep referring to this character as being fat, despite the fact that I think actual chubby people would be saying “Eh?” If she’s fat then we have a new standard for body image that’s been set by this wonderful film. Attention all vain or insecure people, you are now considered fat if you have any breasts at all or an arse. If you do not look like a flat chested 11 year old boy, then you are officially fat. This movie told me so, so it must be true.
Well it’s not like I was wanting or expecting a treatise on geopolitical diplomacy or the catergorical imperative, but it just made a movie that already sucked suck even more. And it made everyone concerned, predominately the people that put the flick together, look really foolish. If these people have friends, I suspect they avoid eye contact with them now after they showed them the film. It serves them right.
Oh, and that scene where the PM is dancing around the corridors of Number 10 Downing Street to the gentle strains of the Pointer Sister’s ‘Jump’ made me want to beat up the grandmothers of the movie’s producers. Had I watched this flick with Mother Theresa on the couch with me, I imagine that after spitting beer out of her mouth in disgust, she would have started a fist fight with me for having put the DVD on in the first place.
I’m not going to waste your time or mine continuing to go through how they manage to squander so much talent by naming each and every actor that they waste in this fiasco. I will mention one, being Laura Linney, a singularly luminous woman and a tremendous actress, that the film just wastes with the badly written material that they give her, and then forget about her when the movie is moving towards its climactic, multiple gangbang cumshot ending, where virtually everyone is ‘happy’. I mean, she did get all inconvenient and all, didn’t she? Better to just forget about her, yeah?
Yes. And this film is best forgotten, rapidly so. I can list scene after scene which makes no sense or has no meaning in and out of context, because there’s no way we can care about these caricatures, so the pointless context doesn’t matter. For me suffice to say that the last emotion that this film elided from me was any sense or appreciation of ‘love’, in any of its forms.
It is a fantasy in its purest form: the characters are unreal and inhabit a mystical London which is a romantic, love filled metropolis of middle class people for whom love is an accessory, or a travel destination. As such this fucking tripe passing as entertainment is an assault against human dignity which cheapens all our lives. Say no, my people, just say no.
0 reason why London itself didn't deserve to be turned into Hiroshima circa August 1945 during the making of this egregious flick out of 10
"Hiya kids. Here is an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don't buy drugs. Become a pop star, and they give you them for free. " - Love Actually