Love Actually-It’s the Same

Do you love Love Actually? I LOVE Love Actually. Who DOESN’T love Love Actually? (Other than my husband, and most men, and a lot of other people without souls, but we’ll leave them out of this for now.)

Back to those of us with beating hearts… We laughed. We cried. We rented it to watch with our friends. We watched it at 1:00 a.m. while eating a pint of ice cream. We memorized favorite quotes and argued over whether Kiera Knightly is breathtakingly beautiful or a skeletal mouth breather…

Regardless of the fact that Love Actually premiered over ten years ago, we are STILL watching it. Most Americans (women) would consider this movie a classic.

Except it’s not an American movie. It’s a British movie with a few American characters in it. And the only  American characters with significant screen time (that doesn’t involve singing) cover three stereotypes that no one would actually classify as complimentary: a thirtysomething career woman with no personal life, easy American girls and a lecherous US President.

And we eat it UP! Straight from the can with a big ass soup spoon. Please sir, may I have some more? Mr. Darcy is in it for godsakes!

You can watch Love Actually at pretty much any time of day, seven days a week. Now that there are hundreds of cable channels, all you have to do is channel surf, and you will find it. You may not be able to watch the whole thing, but at the very least, you can cheer on middle-schooler Sam as he thwarts Heathrow Airport security to chase his nativity-play-star crush to her gate. Run Sam, run! You can make it! You can give her that kiss! Forget about post September 11 anti-terrorism measures. Forget about the enormous firearms those officers chasing you have. You’re a kid. You’re blond. And this is your chance! It’s Christmas dammit! And this is TRUE LOVE (actually).

Plus, your widowed stepfather totally supports this stunt.

It’s ridiculous – but we Americans love us some Rom-Com. Throw in unresolved angst and it haunts us. Sure, we come across as a bunch of bozos… But as a country known for our loud, obnoxious people, I suppose we can have a collective (loud, obnoxious) laugh at our own expense.

It’s hard to laugh though as Laura Linney puts her entire life on hold to be on-call for her mentally ill brother. In the meantime, she fills the void with her career and pines for handsome co-worker, Karl. Of course she can’t find happiness in the end! There needs to be a balance of happy/sad stories in Love Actually. Why waste the happy on a lamo ex-pat who is destined to own 15 cats? No – she’ll just have to lose herself in 70-hour work weeks and unrequited love. Sad trombone.

I would insert an image this character burning the midnight oil at her computer, but there are very few online pictures that have anything to do with her story arc. Just TOO SAD. Let’s not linger, lest her lonely girl cooties get on us.

Moving on to one of my absolute favorite scenes in the whole movie….

Ironically, it’s dorky Londoner, Colin Frissell’s trip “on Shag Highway heading West” to what he considers to be the exact middle of the United States: Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Why? Obviously, to meet American girls who won’t be able to resist his British accent.

Who doesn’t die laughing over this? Because it’s SO TRUE. Skinny, rumpled backpacker at the bar…eh. Skinny, rumpled backpacker at the bar with a British accent…HEL-LO! It’s embarrassing, but it cannot be denied: the less cosmopolitan the American girl, the more impressed she’ll be by an accent. As was so perfectly enacted by January Jones’ mini-swoon when Colin claims to hail from “Basildon.”

The three inordinately beautiful girls giggle in delight after begging him to say “bottle” and “straw,” and then pause for a moment of disappointment at “table” because “it’s the same.” An apt spoof. So that’s all fair enough. But then – THEN – those same farmers’ daughters end the evening by dragging the lucky Colin back to their apartment where they share “just a little bed” for a freaking FOURSOME. Stay classy Milwaukee.

Love Actually 1

Loving the perception of American women so far. We’re awesome.

Not to be outdone by the women though, American men are represented by none other than Billy Bob Thornton, the Hollywood mogul voted most likely to make women everywhere shudder in revulsion. WHO BETTER to play the US President who sexually harasses a member of the Prime Minister’s staff as she serves tea? Casting slam dunk!

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In a David and Goliath moment of glory, Prime Minister, Hugh Grant defends the honor of his [“she’s NOT“] chubby love interest and shows that nasty American man that he is dealing with a civilised AND bad ass Englishman, yo.

This unlikely hero later combs an entire London suburb trying to locate the tea serving charmer and then escorts her to the local nativity play, WHERE (gasp for air) he runs into his sister and receives completely bogus credit for being there for her when she really needs him. This would be after he’s spent the duration of the film avoiding her calls. Well played Mr. Grant.

But who cares if Hugh Grant is a self absorbed politician who can’t find time for that plebe sister who won’t stop calling him. He really GETS love. He even does that voice over introducing the movie THEME:

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

That British boy next door… So earnest and upstanding. Wait – what was that? I think somewhere in the world Liz Hurley just guffawed.

But I do love Love Actually. How can I NOT love Love Actually? It’s funny. It’s heartwarming. It’s (mostly) what we really WANT life to be like. And it’s all done with BRITISH ACCENTS.

Which makes everything better.

Say “bottle” Colin.

Squee!

Now say “straw.”

Adorable!

Now say “love.”

Huh.

Actually…it’s the same.

5 thoughts on “Love Actually-It’s the Same

  1. anna see

    Oh my gosh! Loved this. You certainly have this movie figured out and why we must all love it so! You really nailed it. P.S. I have the DVD, naturally, and am up for a watch anytime you would like!
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  2. Christy

    LOVE this! It’s like a post from three years ago when we used to really write POSTS!

    Team skeletal with open breathing here. Soulful one here too. I own the movie — 2 copies actually — one US and one British of course!!!!

    Love this post! Love you! Come visit!

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  3. Jen

    Kate, I love this movie. It cracks me up that they chose my lovely city, Milwaukee, to showcase the craziness of American women. It is true that we American women are a sucker for an accent.
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  4. Lady Jennie

    Holy cow girl! I don’t know the movie THAT well, actually.

    I can’t remember what Keira Knightly played in the movie. I remembered everything else though with your little glimpses into all the scenes.

    But I have to say you hit it head on when you talked about we American suckers for a British accent. And this was fun to read as the movie was to watch. :-)
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  5. heidi

    This is so, so awesomely funny! And so true. I have the dvd and I watch it every year around Christmas. Every time I watch I want to shout, “She is not chubby or thick or whatever!” And I am a little wistful every time that guy (I can never remember his name) holds up the “I love you but will never have you” cards for Keira Knightley.

    “Sad trombone”? Is perfection.
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