5 Days of Christmas Movies: Love Actually (2003)

1. The Overly Cheery Romantic Comedy

I don’t watch many Christmas movies this time of year but Love Actually happens to be one of my favorite guilty pleasures. It is always the first Christmas movie I watch and it sets the mood for the rest of the holiday season.

Love Actually follows ten intertwining stories and many characters during the weeks leading up to Christmas. The cast is stacked with the likes of Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth and Laura Linney. Compared to the cats of other rom-coms centered around a holiday (ugh, Valentine’s Day), this ensemble is overwhelmingly talented.

But a talented cast doesn’t make Love Actually is the greatest romantic comedy/holiday movie of the aughts. In fact, it is far from that.

Love Actually is overloaded with characters and story lines. Some I really don’t care for, like Keira Knightley as the newlywed or Chiwetel Ejiofor as her husband. (Would you even know it? Ejiofor barely has a line.) And I cannot stand Liam Neeson’s widowed father act.

Writer-director Richard Curtis basically went nuts when he made this film. Can you imagine how sloppy and tedious the director’s cut with 40 additional minutes would be? (Hint: Very painful.) And yet, I still adore Love Actually. I’d rather watch it, flaws and all, than miss out on the wonder that is Billy Mack, Rowan Atkinson’s gift wrapping, or Hugh Grant’s dancing.

And because Valentine’s Day really is so goddamn terrible.

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