It's 'Actually' not a Christmas classic - Coeur d'Alene Press: Entertainment

It's 'Actually' not a Christmas classic

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Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 12:00 am

• Bad Christmas movie marathon - Week 2

No amount of Hugh Grant dancing will convince me that "Love Actually" is a good movie.

The 2003 mega-romantic-comedy starring every British actor alive has developed quite a following the last couple years, with many minting it with the status of "New Christmas Classic."

Nonsense. Instead of being just one lousy rom-com, "Love Actually" stuffs nine so-called stories into one timeline of sexist, lazy malarkey.

Sorry, but not one thing in this film depicts any kind of genuine romantic love. The women in the stories - like a sassy assistant to the Prime Minister, a 12-year-old dream girl, and Keira Knightley as a photogenic bride - are mere trophies for the men who have barely spoken to them. The movie should be called "Love at First Sight Actually," because appearance is all that really matters to these pathetic fools. Oh, and Liam Neeson gets over his wife being dead because Claudia Schiffer is attractive.

The female characters who do utter more than a few lines are conveniently given baggage that damn them to unhappiness (Laura Linney has a brother in the loony bin! Emma Thompson isn't sexy!). Alan Rickman, on the other hand, is the lustful object of desire for women half his age. Actually, that one kinda makes sense. Everybody loves Hans Gruber.

It's all neatly wrapped with dumb American jokes, bouncy Christmas ditties and gratuitous shots of voluptuous... lady parts.

Had "Love Actually" exclusively followed Bill Nighy's aging rocker character as he tries to turn one of his old pop songs into a Christmas classic, then the movie would deserve to be on some legitimate holiday watch lists. As it is though, "Love Actually" belongs alongside Jim Carrey's "Grinch" fiasco as recent movies that just don't understand what makes a Christmas classic.

On top of everything, the success of "Love Actually" has led to even more ensemble romantic-comedy disasters like "He's Just Not That Into You," "Valentine's Day" and "New Year's Eve." At least "Love Actually" had the sense to leave Ashton Kutcher off the cast list.

"Love Actually" is available on Netflix Instant Streaming, and it counts toward my month-long quest to watch as many abysmal holiday offerings as possible. My Christmas will be all the more sweet because I experienced the epitome of holiday failure all December long.

• More Terrible Netflix Christmas offerings, ranked just below "Love Actually"

* A Dennis the Menace Christmas (2007)

A live-action, straight-to-video gem with Robert Wagner as grumpy Mr. Wilson squaring off against the titular terrorist-in-training-wheels. Yet another variation of "A Christmas Carol" where Mr. Wilson learns the value of being neighborly, even as most of his property is destroyed by a first-grader.

Should You Watch It? Good Lord, no. Somebody needs to arrest and detain that kid before he gets his hands on a nuclear weapon.

* Switchmas (2012)

Partially filmed in Leavenworth, Wash., this little piece of insanity follows a Christmas-obsessed Jewish kid who, on a trip to visit his grandparents, switches places with another kid at the airport so he can go enjoy the holidays in "Christmastown, USA." Elliott Gould is in this, seemingly under duress, and there are a lot of Jewish stereotypes passing for jokes.

Should You Watch It? Just going off the first hour, no. I couldn't finish it. Even I have limits.

Tyler Wilson can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.

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