It’s the most wonderful time of the year ― when everyone watches our favorite problematic Christmas movie, “Love Actually!”
I mean that “favorite” part ― I am always charmed by this movie in spite of its issues. So I decided it would be fun to see someone’s raw reactions to what have become sort of institutionalized complaints about the plot after 13 years of people debating this movie.
Plus my boyfriend is constantly trying to show me weird sci-fi and fantasy things that I can’t follow because there are no women talking to each other, so I decided to give him a dose of his own medicine and show him a movie so many women love and love to hate.
Below, the storylines ranked from his most to least favorite, with his impressions of each one. (The names of each storyline are all his as well.)
1. “Liam Neeson In ‘Fight Club’”
Most people would probably refer to this storyline as “depressed widower and his grieving son,” since it’s the one in which Liam Neeson plays the step-parent of Sam, whose mother and Neeson’s wife has just died.
This ended up being my boyfriend’s favorite storyline because he developed a “Fight Club”-esque theory that “Sam,” the son, was just an alter-ego imagined by Daniel to help him process his sorrow. And I have to say, he almost had me believing it. This kid doesn’t talk to another human being besides Liam Neeson until the last 10 minutes of the movie.
Not to mention that the relationship between these two is weird and inappropriate. Why does Neeson keep talking about sex and using the F-word to this kid? Do they not really have “parenting” as we know it in the UK?
2. “Bill Nighy As My Style Icon”
I mean, who doesn’t love this story line? Bill Nighy (quite singularly) plays a washed-up pop star who finds new popularity by dropping truth bombs and admitting that his “new” single is commercialistic Christmas crap.
The only thing that could have made it better, according to my boyfriend, is if Nighy had professed romantic love to his manager at the end.
3. “Naked Martin Freeman, Who Is The Only Person Who Actually Falls In Real Love”
Boyfriend was more charmed than I’ve ever seen anyone be by this storyline, of the two movie stand-ins who meet cute while simulating sex scenes nude for lighting purposes. He kept saying “This storyline feels the most honest.” It probably helped that he likes Martin Freeman from “being in a bunch of “nerd stuff” like “The Hobbit,” “Sherlock” and “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.”
4. “Colin Firth Is A Psychic Man-Child And Falls In Love With The World’s Worst Maid”
There were some parts of this movie that I was sort of side-eyeing my boyfriend as they came up to see how he’d react, and this was one of them. Lindy West famously tore this storyline a new one for treating a woman like an object and having Colin Firth fall in love with a woman he can’t communicate with.
As a refresher: Colin Firth’s “Jamie” gets cheated on by his girlfriend, retreats to a remote cabin to write a crime thriller, and falls in love with a local maid who speaks only Portuguese.
Boyfriend gave the love story a pass, since based on the subtitles, Jamie and Aurelia share a psychic connection, but he asked a question that is now all I can think about regarding this storyline: “Why does this guy need a maid?”
He’s so right! He’s just one guy, and it’s not like she’s even cooking ― we see her bring him a croissant and a few cups of tea. (She also doesn’t really clean very much ― in the scene where the pages of Jamie’s book go flying into the lake, there are like 3 empty mugs on the table.) And it seems like she’s there every day! Why does he need a full-time servant at his cabin in the woods?!
5. “Hugh Grant Is A Chubby Chaser”
If you’ll recall, this storyline stars vintage Hugh Grant (hubba) as the prime minister romancing a member of his house staff whose name is Natalie.
The best part of watching this movie with my boyfriend BY FAR was seeing his pure, unblemished reaction to all the times Natalie gets called fat. The first time she is referred to as “the chubby girl” he just started screeching “WHAT? WHAT. F***ING WHAT?”
Yes, honey, we’ve all been screaming that for 13 years.
He continued, “Does everyone have body dysmorphia around this lady? She’s NOT fat! And wouldn’t she be known as the lady who said ‘f**k’ twice to the prime minister and not the ‘fat’ lady?”
Later he asked, “Why is everyone fat-shaming the nice lady?”
Then when her dad refers to her as “Plumpy,” he lost his s**t all over again. “WHAT? WHAT? THAT’S HER F***ING DAD!!!”
He also couldn’t handle the scene where the prime minister basically tells the George W. Bush/Bill Clinton hybrid American president to go to hell during a press conference.
He said, “Did he just compromise international relations because the president macked on his NOT-girlfriend?”
He also felt extremely uncomfortable with the prime minister getting involved with someone who is both on his staff and well beneath him, as well as with when he later basically torpedoes Natalie’s career so he can get his bone on.
6. “Alan Rickman Is Bad At Infidelity And Christmas”
In this humdinger of a storyline, Alan Rickman gets tempted into cheating on his wife Emma Thompson by his assistant, who is a walking archetype of an evil seductress named Mia.
I’ll just let my boyfriend speak for himself on this one.
“OK, so Alan Rickman is the worst at infidelity. They’re flirting in the most public places where they could possible get caught ― in the office, in front of his WIFE. Also, he should know you don’t buy jewelry for women if you don’t know exactly what kind of jewelry she wants. And you should NOT give your mistress a 300-dollar necklace and then give your wife a CD. THAT’S what Emma Thompson should have been upset about. The mistress got a cinnamon stick and flowers! Emma Thompson probably already had that CD. It wasn’t even wrapped in plastic!!! That was a USED CD!”
He also repeatedly referred to Mia as a “sex witch.”
7. “Laura Linney Needs To Get Laid”
In this storyline, Laura Linney plays an office worker named Sarah who is silently in love with her co-worker Karl. They almost get together the night of the office Christmas party, but their romance is ultimately thwarted by the intrusion of Sarah’s mentally ill brother, who calls her a lot and whom she feels responsible for.
My boyfriend did not care for Karl.
He referred to him as a “manic pixie dream guy” who is so used to everyone dropping everything to touch his hot bod that he freaks out when they don’t. He also said he “seems like the kind of guy who would take your hands and rub them over his body.” Laura Linney deserves better.
8. “Colin Sandwich Man Stumbles Onto A Wisconsin Porn Shoot”
“That dude flying to America and having sex with a bunch of sorority people had nothing to do with anything.”
9. “Rick WalkingDead Refuses To Be Friends With His BFF’s Wife Then Ruins Her Christmas Four Weeks After Her Wedding”
“Oh, what about the ‘Andrew Lincoln loves his best friend’s wife’ storyline?” I asked him, to which he responded simply, “I hate it.”
WE ALL HATE IT! RIGHT ANSWER, BOYFRIEND!
You remember, Andrew Lincoln plays Mark (I guess?) who is secretly in love with his best friend Chiwetel Ejiofor’s (Peter’s) wife, played by Keira Knightley. Her name is Juliet.
During the scene where Keira Knightley shows up to see wedding footage and realize that it’s all close-up, lovingly shot stalker footage of her face, my boyfriend informed me that he’d once done something similar by splicing together nude scenes he wanted to masturbate to. (I think/hope he meant as a teenager?)
At that moment, I did kind of realize that if I was Keira Knightley, I would be like “This is the perfect wedding video, I am beautiful.”
He also accurately recognized the creepiness of the final “carol singers” cue card scene. “What’s wrong with their relationship that Keira Knightley is into this?” he wanted to know.
Overall, he enjoyed the film, especially the part where you “see boobs every 15 minutes.”
But he summed it all up thusly:
“Take away the soundtrack and four of these relationships would be a total nightmare.”