I legitimately think Love Actually is awesome. People always assume I’m joking when I say that but absolutely not.Love Actually really is a damn good movie, and one of the finest examples of a romantic comedy done right. Sure Christmas isn’t the total focal point, but it’s an important element and so this still technically counts. Plus when else am I going to get a chance to talk about this movie.
Love Actually follows....I don’t know the exact number but it follows a lot of different stories about relationships, both new and established. I won’t summarize them all since that would be the entire review but I will touch on some highlights. My personal favourite is Liam Neeson’s story where he is a widower trying to help his young stepson cope with his feelings for a classmate. Other good ones are Hugh Grant’s Prime Minister story, and Bill Nighy as an aging rock star promoting a Christmas album he openly admits is shitty. I also quite enjoy the story of the guy who goes to America to get laid, because of how fucking ridiculously well things go for him immediately. I wouldn’t say there’s a weak story in the bunch. I will admit to not caring too much for Keira Knightly’s story, but the end does make up for it. Plus it’s nice to see Keira playing someone who didn’t die 200 years ago. Also the sex doubles story really only exists to tell the same joke repeatedly, so perhaps there is one weak entry in there.
The main way most romantic comedies fail for me is that I usually have no interest in seeing the two leads get together. Whether it’s because the love interest is kind of a shitty person (Hitch), or the lead is such a terrible person I don’t want her to have any shred of happiness (Sweet Home Alabama), or the characters seem to only be together because the script dictates it, not because they seem to like each other (almost every romantic comedy ever made), most just don’t work. This is for the most part not the case here. You want these people and their relationships to work out ok. Seriously I dare you to watch Liam Neeson’s kid run through that airport (the worst cliché of them all but they make it work here miraculously) and not want him to succeed more than you have ever wanted anything in your life before. It’s a testament to the script that even though we only spend a little bit of time with each character, they are feel well rounded and developed.
Another thing I have to give this movie credit for, is that even though it’s for the most part a feel good flick, it’s also not afraid to have shitty things go down. I can think of at least three stories that don’t have completely happy endings. In fact one essentially ends by stating that this person never gets to truly be happy. It’s a stark bit of realism for a movie that also hints at angels being real, but I respect that.
While this definitely travels down the path of sappiness (speeches are given, sweeping romantic gestures are made, airports are ran through) it doesn’t go past the point of “feel-good” and into the realm of eye-rolling terrible. There are a couple of moments where it teeters on the line, but I think here they let the moments speak for themselves instead of ramming the magic down your throat. Ok except for maybe the airport scene near the end but oh my god that kid has to get to his lady or else life has no purpose. The sap in general is well balanced by legitimately funny comedy and a surprising amount of drama.
I don’t bust out Love Actually every year, just every few years, but for this kind of movie that’s actually a good deal of praise coming from me. I still hold it as one of the best examples of romantic comedy done right and I would definitely say give it a shot. Believe me I initially went in expecting to hate it and yet here we are, 9 years later and I’m still singing this damn things’ praises. Things have been getting a little too positive around these parts. I think it’s time to review something shitty, how about you?