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Directed by Roger Michell (1999, Universal Pictures)
Starring Julia Roberts, and Hugh Grant

A famous movie actress falls in love with a "normal" British bookstore owner.

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4 stars

December 27th, 2003 on DVD  

I wonder how much of the antics in this movie were drawn from real experiences. The paparazzi is real enough, from the everyday news, and I'm sure actresses of Julia Roberts' popularity can't go around even tiny bookstores without somebody asking for an autograph. The most amusing moments, I think, probably also come from real life experiences. I wonder how many times somebody thinks they know a movie where an actress played, but mistakes her for somebody else. Or how many normal people does she get to talk with, who don't even realize who she is? I'm sure actors would love to do what Anna did in the restaurant, causing the men to drop their jaws in embarrassment. I wonder how many actually steal things from shops, just to see if they could get away with it, or because it seems too easy.

I still think this movie was great fun, with hilarious moments, and a few too many musical interludes. For once, the guy is not a jerk; it's actually the woman who plays with his heart, two-timing him, dropping him like nothing, and then entering his life again and dropping him yet again. No wonder he was torn -he truly loved her, but not her life. How difficult is that? In the end, though, it's great to see her pregnant on the bench, relaxing with her husband.

The DVD doesn't have much interesting stuff, as usual for something from that early DVD year. The movie trailer gives away too much, the Travel Book was really only for people who want to go visit Notting Hill, the musical notes take you to scenes where the music is played -and there are a lot of those, and the production notes are purely text-boring, although I did read them. Even the deleted scenes didn't add too much to the movie, though dinner with his parents was pretty funny. Hugh Grant's on-set antics were really too short to give us any behind-the-scenes information -that's what the DVD-ROM is probably for, though I'll have to wait a while before I can access whatever is on there. There is a director's commentary, but I can't see myself listening to that, either. Anyway, I didn't get the DVD for the special features, but for the movie, which was enjoyed thoroughly.



4 stars

November 5th, 2001 on TV  

This movie was better and much funnier than I remembered it being.  There were several genuinely funny moments, where it was simply required to laugh out loud.  The love story was also quite romantic, in an on-again-off-again kind of way.  

I liked Hugh Grant's portrayal of his character.  He truly was an "everyman".  He bounces all his ideas, especially about romance, off his friends.  He says no when Anna asks him to go out with him again, even though he desperately wants to, because he fears that his heart can't take another chaotic breakup.  

Anna Scott is an actress who thinks she can get away from it all.  She has a boyfriend, who is a real Hollywood jerk (Alec Baldwin's name is not even worth mentioning on the front credits), and she sees something innocent and vulnerable about the English guy she meets who runs a bookstore.  Julia Roberts is wonderfully toned down, and looks best when she is wearing normal clothes, especially baggy ones.  But when the photographers find her (after unearthing some nude photographs), she beats a hasty retreat.  

The supporting characters are all real "characters".  His sister is extremely strange, and prattles on and on.  Another friend is so out of it that he doesn't even recognize Anna for who she is, and keeps putting his feet in his mouth!  He has two normal friends, one of whom is confined to a wheelchair, and her husband is a terrible cook.  

There were several scenes that were so funny, from beginning to end.  All of them invariably involved Hugh Grant.  After stumbling into an interview session, he pretends he is from Horse and Hound magazine, and proceeds to interview not only Anna, but the rest of the cast of her movie as well, not knowing anything about the movie at all!

Another involves his friends trying to set him up on blind dates.  Each one is a character of her own, especially the "fruitarian", who thinks that all cooked fruits and vegetables have been murdered.  

The best supporting character has to be his roommate, though.  Spike is totally crazy, though he has a heart of gold when it comes to his friend's happiness.  He doesn't remember any phone messages, sits on his glasses, is a total mess, poses outside in his tiny underwear, and borrows his friends clothing.  But when it comes down to it, he knows when it is time to make "a move" on Anna, and he comes straight out and tells him that he's made a mistake when she asks him out again and he declines.  And in a hilarious scene on the streets, he stops traffic so that their car can get through and get to Anna before she leaves the country.  

If there is any fault in this movie, I think it would be too many musical interludes.  Yes, they were peaceful, and romantic at times, or lonely at others.  But they also mostly showed people just walking, interminably walking...  But that is a minor point, because the music was good, and both Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts showed a lot of emotion during these scenes.  A most effective one shows the seasons pass by in one cut as Grant walks through the market to his home.  

Everything else felt just right about this movie.  It was certainly better than I remember it.  There were individual moments that really clicked, but it was really about a bunch of lonely characters, and their survival in a world that seems to move of its own accord.  Definitely a movie worth seeing.



3 stars

June 15th, 1999 in the Theatre  
    This was a lot of fun.  The comedy was mostly British, which is quite different and more subtle and physical than usual.  Roberts was quite endearing, and not as over-the-top as usual, which was a pleasant change, and Grant was his usual weird self.  Classic on-again-off-again type of romance.  Have to say that his room-mate was hilarious.  Played as an annoying roommate, he wasn't an annoying character.  

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