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. 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 (as the way-above-Curtis’s-level David O. Russell does) . 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! In my view anything with the Curtis stamp is an instant must-to-avoid.

And yet he’s only directed three films — Love Actually (’03), Pirate Radio (’09) and the soon-to-open About Time (Universal, 11.8), a “romantic comedy about time travel” with Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy. I haven’t seen the latter but look at the trailer. Jesus.

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 an attempt to appeal to all tastes, the New York Film festival will be screening About Time on 10.2 and 10.6. In a 9.28 tribute piece Indiewire‘s Maggie Lange calls Curtis a “romantic comedy master“…sure thing.