Poop Actually

Love Actually

After my post (and re-post) about Santa, it will probably come as no surprise when I say that I also dislike pop-music remakes of Christmas songs, baby showers, bangs, American cheese, the bouquet-throwing part of a wedding reception, and romantic comedies. (But I love kittens, so I’m not evil.)

Actually, I love romantic comedies if it counts as love that I love hating romantic comedies.

I especially love hating romantic comedies that other people love. Like Shakespeare in Love. Oh, I hated that movie. It’s the standard by which my spouse and I judge all other romantic comedies. We disliked it so much, we renamed it Shakespeare in Poop, but that didn’t quite capture how we felt about the movie.

My friends were raving about Love Actually, and I trust my friends so much that I got it from the library without learning anything about the film beforehand.

I took one look at the DVD case and said to my spouse, “Oh, no. I think this might be as bad as Poop-poop in Poop,” and he knew exactly what I was talking about.

Except when we saw it, it turned out not to be as bad as Shakespeare in Love. There were actually some funny parts in Love Actually. It might actually have been the best movie we’ve seen in months, but that says more about our recent viewing habits than it does about Love Actually. (If you’ve not seen Uncle Brian, do yourself a favor and keep on not seeing it, no matter what your Amazon recommendations say.)

But what saved the film for us was Lindy West’s review of it on Jezebel, “I Rewatched Love Actually and Am Here to Ruin It For All of You.”

I did feel a little irritated that West’s new name for the movie was so close to the one I came up with—Poop Actually—except that she writes for Jezebel and so doesn’t say, “poop.” But since we came up with our respective re-names independent of one another, I’m just going to chalk it up to shared genius.

I think that my incredulity instinct is just too strong for romantic comedies. I mean, how long did Colin Firth have to learn Portuguese? Like, two weeks? And I’ve spent a lot of time in the Midwest, and while I’ve never been there as a man with a British accent, I really don’t believe Kris Marshall’s (Colin Frissell’s) storyline. If they’d made it clear that the movie was supposed to be a wacky, out-there film, I could have bought into it, but they cut most of that out of the final film so the wacky bits they left in just seemed incongruous.

And it really bugged me that everyone in the film kept calling Natalie fat. There were entirely too many fat jokes in the movie, and I couldn’t figure out why they were there. That alone was enough for me to give this movie its scatological renaming. But Lindy West’s fat-joke jokes—like her description of the first time David and Natalie meet—made me laugh so much, it was worth it to sit through the original fat jokes. Here’s that paragraph for you (and hey! No cuss words in this quote!):

It’s Hugh Grant’s first day on the job, and he’s saying hello to his new staff. One staffer is named Natalie, and as far as I can tell, her job is “woman.” She’s also incredibly, disgustingly fat, like a bean bag chair with feet, according to literally everyone else in the movie who apparently all have Natalie Dysmorphic Disorder (the silent killer). Natalie accidentally says some swears in front of the prime minister, and then she makes lemon-face for 45 minutes. Actually, she’s probably just thinking about delicious lemons, because NATALIE HUNGRY!!!!!!!

Whether you love Love Actually or not, Lindy West’s review is hilarious (unless you’re really, really shocked by profanity because West’s review is chock-full of f-bombs). It starts a little slow, but bear with it at least down to the part about the school play. In that bit, West coins a new term that my spouse and I will be using forever, laughing until we cry every single time.

I won’t tell you what it is, though; I wouldn’t want to spoil it.

Speaking of spoilers, if you haven’t watched Love Actually and actually want to, you might want to go ahead and watch it before you read West’s review.

2 comments

  1. Wilson Varga · December 24, 2013

    Although I have become a fan of your blogging, CJ, I can’t say I always agree with you, especially regarding “Shakespeare in Love” http://cla.calpoly.edu/~smarx/shakespeare/Shak_inLove/screenplay.html with a screenplay by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard (i.e THE Tom Stoppard). It has such great comedic bits as these:

    VIOLA: Answer me only this: are you the author of the plays of William Shakespeare?
    WILL: I am.

    FENNYMAN: What’s the title?
    HENSLOWE: Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter.
    FENNYMAN: Good title.

    HENSLOWE: Another little problem.
    WILL: What do we do now?
    HENSLOWE: The show must … you know
    WILL: Go on.

    And the last pages, so poignant, beginning with:

    VIOLA (CONT’D): The Queen commands a comedy, Will, for Twelfth Night.
    WILL (harshly): A comedy! What will my hero be but the saddest wretch in the kingdom, sick with love?
    VIOLA: An excellent beginning (a beat) Let him be…a duke. And your heroine?
    WILL: (bitterly) Sold in marriage and half way to America.

    … down to:

    WILL (VO CONTINUED): and her name will be … Viola.
    He looks down at the paper, and writes: “Viola” Then: “What country friends is this?”

    which happens to be the beginning of Act I, Scene II of TWELTH NIGHT by William Shakespeare: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/1526/pg1526.html

    Although I am a sucker for literary allusions, this seemed like a good bit of writing by Norman & Stoppard to me at least. (Come on, the whole bit is funny: a girl playing a boy who is playing the most famous girl in Western Literature? What a bit! Made even more fun by the casting! Paltrow!) Then again, you may feel differently (regarding Joyce and Ulysses), as you wrote recently (anent Santa), “When I finally figured out the truth…, I felt devastated. Not only had [James Joyce] practiced this elaborate deception for [the] whole [novel], I was clearly an idiot. In retrospect, it was so obvious. I was angry at [Joyce], but more than that, I was angry at myself for being so incredibly gullible.” Sometimes the fun is in being fooled and in figuring out afterwards just how the fooler manipulated us, the fooled. Sometimes a Rom-Com may just be a vehicle for the writer and the audience to have such fun together: less about the ROM and more about the COM.

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    • CJ · December 24, 2013

      I must admit, I can’t counter any of your points about Shakespeare in Love because I really don’t remember the film very well (although I do recall the “Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter” line), except to remember that it just didn’t do it for me.

      I think Love Actually could have been “a vehicle for the writer and the audience to have such fun together,” had they not edited out so much of the wacky.

      I doubt I’ll feel disappointed in Joyce, no matter what happens (unless it’s all a dream. I really hope it’s not all a dream). I tend to think of modernist authors as being fairly self-consciously clever (I can almost hear them saying, “Look at me! Look how clever I am!” while I read their books), so I’m going into it with pretty low expectations. I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised by Ulysses, but I hope I’m keeping my expectations in check enough not to be too disappointed.

      And Amelie is one of my favorite movies of all time, so I do occasionally like romantic comedies.

      Like

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