Richard Curtis‘s Love Actually opened roughly 11 years ago. I recall sitting through it like it was yesterday. I despised its grotesquely sentimental tone. It connected in my head to Robert Stigwood‘s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which I saw at a New York all-media screening in July 1978. I remember a guy sitting in the front yelling “yecch! agghh!” when costar Peter Frampton sang “The Long and Winding Road.” That was my response to Love Actually. I almost went into convulsions. I was spitting, sputtering.
“I believe that Richard Curtis has done more to sugarcoat and suffocate the romantic comedy genre than any other director-writer I can think of,” I wrote about 14 months ago. “If there’s someone else who has injected his films and scripts with more mirth, fluttery-ness and forced euphoria, I’d like to know who that is. Curtis has no discernible interest in ground-level reality. When writing romantic material he seems interested only in those levitational moments when an attractive man and a simple-but-dishy woman can finally let their true feelings out and look into each other’s eyes and…aaahhh!
“And yet he’s only directed three films — Love Actually (’03), Pirate Radio (’09) and About Time (Universal, 11.8.13), a ‘romantic comedy about time travel’ with Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy.
“Curtis can turn his life around starting today and write and direct nothing but masterpieces henceforth, but he will never atone for Love Actually — one of the most criminally repulsive feel-good milkshakes I’ve ever sat through.
“Curtis wrote the screenplays for Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, and I’ll admit, yes, that portions of these films are effective, but other portions are terrible. He also wrote Bridget Jones’ Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. And he co-penned Steven Spielberg‘s War Horse. In a 9.28 tribute piece Indiewire‘s Maggie Lange called Curtis a “romantic comedy master.” Sure thing.”