The ChickFlickGuide Blog

The blog from Sam Cook, author of The Rough Guide to Chick Flicks

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Name: Samantha Cook
Location: London, United Kingdom

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Notting Hill: Just say no

I didn't waste space in my book writing about chick flick turkeys. It was far more gratifying to spend time on all the great movies out there. There's enough critical snobbery about the genre as it is, and I was more interested in celebrating than sneering.

I did permit myself just one short rant, however, on the subject of what I believe to be the most over-rated chick flick ever. Written more out of exasperation than anything else (I expected so much more from the people who gave us Four Weddings and Bridget Jones – and there are *four* Julia Roberts movies in my top fifty), this is what I said...

Five years after the phenomenal success of Four Weddings And A Funeral (1994), Working Title came up with this cynical return to formula. Scripted by Richard Curtis, who knows a thing or two about people-pleasing, Notting Hill should, by rights, be far funnier, fresher and more romantic than it is. Hugh Grant, who proved in Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) and About A Boy (2002) – both of which also came from the Working Title stable – that he could do so much better, bumbles and bores as William, a book shop owner. The usually effervescent Julia Roberts, meanwhile, here all lank straightened hair and sulkily jutting jaw, gracelessly plays “the most famous film starin the world” as if she’s having a really, really bad day.

And as for her big line, the one that is supposedly set to get us all weeping – “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” – words simply fail. Girl? Boy? The two of them have as much chemistry as a couple of dead fish.

Bella (Gina McKee), the token wheelchair-user – who is also infertile (the revelation of which is passed over and forgotten in seconds) – and Honey (Emma Chambers), Will’s “kooky” sister, are woefully underwritten, while Rhys Ifans provides unbelievably annoying support as Spike, Will’s supposedly hilarious friend. All in all, Notting Hill is a sad waste of talent, money and time.


Anonymous KB said...

I agree, it's a dire film. It makes me cringe with its heavy-handed sentimentality masquerading as feeling. So why is it so popular? And how can even the best (chick flick) actresses fall so wide of the mark? Would love to know what you think.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Samantha Cook said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Samantha Cook said...

Maybe it’s so popular because it gently pokes fun at Brits, presenting them as seriously dysfunctional, and because it stars two of the most popular actors on the planet, and because it portrays a world many of us would like to live in (unspoiled, cosmopolitan neighborhoods abounding in cute bookstores; nice tolerant friends to hang out with; film stars falling in love with us)?

For me, however, Hugh Grant's laziness and Julia Roberts' discomfort (Why so uneasy? Who knows?) clouded the whole thing.

And I'm certainly not averse to a British rom-com. I was one of the few people who liked Love Actually ...

(PS I only deleted my last comment because it was riddled with annoying typos and you can't edit a comment once you've posted!)

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Dev said...

Hey Samatha,

How come you stopped blogging about chick flicks? Will you be putting out any more book about chick flicks?

2:21 AM  
Blogger Samantha Cook said...

Hi Dev
I'll be back in earnest blogging away on chick flicks in the new year. And as for any more books – who knows!
Thanks for your message.

5:49 PM  

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