It’s been 10 years since Hugh Grant shimmied across theater screens to the tune of the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump (For My Love).” And, oh, how much better off the world is for that jubilant jig.
Writer-director Richard Curtis’ thoroughly British rom-com, “Love Actually,” quietly debuted Stateside on November 7, 2003, and over the ensuing decade, has become something of a cult classic among soft-hearted cinephiles (and every guy trying to impress a girl on OKCupid).
But the film, which stars pretty much all of the working thespians in the U.K., hasn’t always been so beloved. Especially by critics. As we celebrate the film’s 10-year anniversary, let’s look back at seven reviewers who didn’t think love actually was all around.
Is a rugby scrum like an orgy?
“Eight or nine plotlets, a castlist the size of a rugby scrum. Whatever persuaded first-time director Curtis that he could handle this lot, we can only hope that a hype-happy press and the biggest audience money can buy won’t persuade him he’s carried it off. This is an embarrassment, an overdrawn rom-com gone very wrong.” — TCh, Time Out London
Pass the sugar.
“The film’s surplus of saccharine, however, will probably give pause to theater owners. After all, why would anyone watching this movie bother going to the concession stand for sweets?” — Peter Rainer, New York Magazine
No, but really.
“[Curtis] ladles sugar over the eager-to-please ’Love Actually’ to make it go down easy, forgetting that sometimes it just makes you gag.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Unlovable and unlikable.
“If listing the cast of ’Love Actually’ is exhausting, it’s even more tiring to watch it, chiefly because Curtis makes such long-winded and strenuous labor of making such simple, unassailable points. (He may be the only director earnest, or self-important, enough to invoke Sept. 11, 2001, in a romantic comedy.) His premise — stated during an admittedly touching opening documentary sequence filmed at the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport — is that ’love, actually, is all around us.’ True enough, but Curtis can’t leave well enough alone, throwing plot line on top of character on top of cliche on top of manipulation to create a movie whose desperation to be liked can have only one effect: to make it thoroughly unlikable.” — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
No balcony seating for this reviewer.
“If movie theaters had windows, I would have jumped out of one by the end of ’Love Actually.’ ” — Stephanie Zacharek, Salon
Trash receptacles are at the exits for your convenience…
“Instead, ’Love Actually’ is a patchwork of contrived naughtiness and forced pathos, ending as it began, with hugging and kissing at the airport (where returning passengers are perhaps expressing their relief at being delivered from an in-flight movie like this one). The loose ends are neatly tied up, as they are when you seal a bag of garbage — or if you prefer, rubbish.” — A.O. Scott, New York Times
…alongside biohazard bins.
“Cretinous love songs from yesteryear clot the soundtrack like factory-dumped phosphates.” — Michael Atkinson, Village Voice