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I have a confession to make. Up until this past weekend, I had never actually watched the often-talked about and lauded Christmas movie, Love Actually. All I knew was that every girlfriend I’ve ever had loved the movie, and that it was made up of many different storylines of various relationships that somehow linked. I assumed, like most rom-coms, there would be some protagonists, some antagonists, and several wacky misunderstandings that would get cleared up, allowing for a happy-ever-after ending. Boy, was I wrong. Everyone, and let me be clear that this is not hyperbole, everyone in this movie sucks. Every relationship depicted is, at best, awkward and uncomfortable, and at worst, due for a divorce. Let’s rank them.
Liam Neeson and his kid (and his kid’s crush)
This is the only storyline that is remotely likable, and that’s because it has nothing to do with relationships. Sure, on the surface, it would appear this is about a ten-year-old getting his first crush and trying to woo her, but in reality, it’s about a man grieving the death of his wife and moving heaven and earth to stay strong and be a good father to his stepson. The kid gets the girl (by being a fucking drum prodigy and breaking every TSA rule in the book), and during the process, helps the dad believe in love again. It’s pretty heartwarming.
John and Judy
These two meet, and have all of their interactions, while as body doubles for either a porno or a very sexually explicit film. This could be a light, funny storyline if everyone involved wasn’t awkward as fuck. I don’t know if the pinnacle of British sexiness is being a stuttering, painfully shy, self-deprecating guy, but judging from this movie, that’s what the ladies love. The storyline literally involves four scenes of John awkwardly discussing traffic while simulating sex with Judy, and one scene of him stammering for four full minutes before asking her out on a date. She’s already seen you naked my dude, grow some balls.
Sarah and Karl
Laura Linney (a poor man’s Amy Adams), has a big ol’ crush on her coworker, Karl. After years of pining, she finally takes him home, only to bail at the last second to take care of her mentally ill brother, which is admirable. Later, Karl awkwardly wishes her a Merry Christmas, implying that he doesn’t want to see her again, because he’s an asshole. The movie wouldn’t change a bit if this storyline was omitted.
The Prime Minister and His Secretary
This is the storyline with the most chemistry, due entirely to Natalie, the Prime Minister’s secretary ( or possibly a junior staffer, I don’t know). Hugh Grant and his dumb hair is the Prime Minister of England, the highest position in the country, and somehow, is still an awkward, stammering mess of a person. He is first attracted to Natalie when she cusses like a sailor upon meeting him for the first time, something Hugh Grant’s tender ears had apparently never heard before. However, their uncomfortable flirtationship takes a hit when he sees her apparently being intimate with the President of the United States (played by Billy Bob Thornton, who is a fair choice to represent America in this movie, and in life). Angered by this, he delivers and impassioned speech to the U.S. that basically says “England won’t be your bitch all the time. You have to be nicer to us!” It’s super lame.
The Prime Minister then moves Natalie to a different job so he won’t have to see her, instead of, I don’t know, communicating with her like an adult. Then, when feeling lonely on Christmas Eve, he decides that he does want to see her, and knocks on every door in the sketchy part of town that he knows she lives, no doubt causing a fucking nightmare for his security detail. Somehow, he finds her, gets wrangled into going to her siblings Christmas play, where they get caught making out on fucking stage. Can you imagine the political shitstorm that would erupt if the president was caught mackin’ on his secretary at a random elementary school? This dude is the worst politician of all time. Also, somehow his sister and her kids are at the same play because England is the size of a shopping mall.
Billy Mack and His Manager
Billy Mack is an aging rock and roll legend who created a Christmas single that he hates, but somehow still manages to win the “Number One Christmas Single,” which is apparently a huge deal in England. Throughout this entire story line Billy Mack does nothing but berate his manager Joe, usually by calling him fat. Seriously, he calls this dude fat probably eight times throughout the movie. The guy’s a douchebag. Then, upon winning the coveted Christmas Single title, he immediately gets an invite to Elton John’s party, and tells everyone he’s going to that over “celebrating with his chubby manager.” But wait! He secretly comes back and professes his (friend) love to Joe, by saying something along the lines of “I realized you were the one that was always with me, so I guess you’re my true love.” They hug and celebrate their horrible, one-sided, abusive relationship with champagne.
Colin and the American Girls
There’s really not much going on in this storyline. Colin is shown to have no luck with girls, entirely because he’s super creepy and not attractive. Then, he leaves for America because he believes girls there will like him and his accent. And he’s right, apparently. This British film paints every American girl as easy as Sunday morning, which is a little offensive. Colin is objectively not a good looking guy, and he pulls a foursome in fucking Milwaukee within an hour of landing. I get it, Hollywood has been butchering British accents forever, and this is their payback. Fair enough.
Jaime and His Foreign Housekeeper
Within the first ten minutes of the movie, Jaime finds out his brother is banging his girlfriend in his bed. Surprisingly, his love story isn’t about him and his new cellmate in prison after he kills them both. Instead, he bounces off to a cabin in France to write a new book. Apparently being a writer pays a hell of a lot better in Europe. While there, he becomes infatuated with his Portuguese housekeeper, despite not being able to say a single word to her.
Their fantasy relationship comes to a head when she accidentally allows hundreds of pages of his new book, of which he has no copies because he writes on a fucking typewriter like an asshole, to get blown into a pond in his backyard. She strips down to jump in and retrieve the pages as if they weren’t immediately ruined the second they hit the water, and he jumps in after her. They laugh, they tell each other their feelings (despite neither of them understanding a word the other is saying), and then…nothing. They don’t hook up. She goes back to Portugal and gives him a kiss on the lips at the airport, which he does not reciprocate because, and I think this is a fair assessment at this point, all British guys are huge pussies.
Instead, he spends a week somehow becoming pretty fucking fluent in Portuguese, flies to her home town, and asks her father for her hand in marriage? Seems super extreme for a woman you’ve known for a couple weeks and can’t communicate with, but that’s the choice he made. Instead of rejecting him and running for her life like a sane woman would do, she accepts and moves to England with him, leaving behind all her family, friends, and culture, and isolating herself with a man she hardly knows. No chance that will end poorly.
Alan Rickman, his loving wife, and a home wrecker
Let me start off by saying I love Alan Rickman, and I hate that this movie made me hate him. Him and his wife, Karen, seem like a perfect match. She’s attractive, smart, kind, the mother of his children, and their marriage seems secure and happy. Until Mia enters the picture. She’s Alan’s secretary, and frankly, an HR nightmare. From saying things like “ I’ll just be hanging around the mistletoe, hoping to be kissed,” and “It’s an art gallery, full of dark corners, for doing dark deeds” when talking about planning the Christmas party, to grinding on Alan Rickman in full view of his wife, she’s a woman on a mission. A mission to destroy a marriage for absolutely no reason.
Alan Rickman somehow doesn’t pick up on the millions of red “I’m crazy” flags this chick is waving and somehow gets seduced into buying Mia a heart-shaped diamond necklace, again while shopping with his wife. I’m sorry, but it’s like this dude is begging to get caught. His wife sees the necklace (because she’s not an idiot), and assumes her normally non-romantic husband stepped his game up for her Christmas present this year. When she doesn’t receive the necklace, she realizes it must be for someone else, and confronts him at their children’s play, while still holding it together for their kids, because she’s fucking gangster like that.
Alan confesses his idiocy, and their marriage somehow stays intact, but it’s a rough couple of scenes. All so Mia could get a necklace. Game recognize game, I guess.
Mark and His Best Friend’s Wife
Oh yeah. You know who it is. The fucking poster guy and Keira Knightley. Despite what other columns may have told you, this dude sucks. He sucks big time. Mark, Peter’s supposed “best friend,” handles a large portion of his wedding planning and seems to an all-around great guy. Fucking wrong. He videos Peter and his wife Juliet’s wedding, and instead of doing his job, he creepily tapes nothing but close-ups of the bride. Like, an hour-long tape of nothing but close-ups of the bride. Juliet sees this video and correctly surmises that he is in love with her.
Instead of doing the million things he could have done to prevent this scenario from happening (Not letting her see the video, not taking the video, not letting himself have feelings for his best friend’s girl), he instead goes to his “best friends” house, and when Juliet answers the door tells her not to say anything (to her husband in the other room), and holds up a series of posters telling her that he has feelings for her. Once again, this is his supposed best friend’s wife. He claims that he needed to tell her because “Christmas is when you tell the truth,” which is pure bullshit. If anything Christmas is the opposite. We lie about how good the food was, lie about how much we love our present, and lie about how much rum is in our eggnog. Lying is the Christmas spirit.
And for everyone saying that it was innocent because he didn’t expect anything in return, come on. Telling someone you have feelings isn’t innocent. It’s a calculated move. That he used. On his best. Friend’s. Wife. Fuck this guy. Fuck Juliet for kissing him (cheating on her new husband), and fuck this storyline.
Every relationship in this film is doomed, and every person is inherently unlikeable. I don’t know how this because a Christmas classic, but it has absolutely nothing to do with love. If anything, it celebrates the end of relationships. .